Scout project to restore honor roll in to Baldwin Borough
An old brick structure, coated with white paint that now was chipping away and starting to fall apart caught Ryan Zemba's attention as he rode the school bus home along Horning Road more than a year ago.
It was a World War II honor roll, likely built in the 1940s.
The bronze plaque that once featured the names of more than 140 residents of the Horning Patch area of Baldwin Borough who served in World War II had been moved to another location.
The structure was in need of repair, said Ryan, 17, of Baldwin Township. Only a piece of paper remained, but it was hard to read the veterans' names.
“It was not in good condition,” he said.
As a project to receive his Eagle Award from the Boy Scouts of America — the highest recognition a Boy Scout can receive — Ryan set out to rebuild the honor roll now planned to be about 20 feet wide and more than 7 feet tall, complete with a new bronze plaque, a sidewalk and new landscaping.
The project has required coordination with local businesses, organizations and residents who have donated money and time to help. Troop 323 committee Chairman Randy Hillard, of Baldwin Borough, said the project is the most ambitious anyone from his troop has ever attempted.
For Ryan, a member of Troop 323 based in the Baldwin Community United Methodist Church in Whitehall, that meant he had to do a lot of convincing even to get approval for the project.
The incoming high school senior connected with Will Huebner, president of PCC-Asia, a business located across the street from the memorial who owns the honor roll and neighboring home.
Huebner purchase the property nearly eight years ago. He intended to buy the home next door, but the honor roll property came as a two-for-one deal.
His father, Walter, served in World War II, and Huebner said he recognized the importance of the honor roll.
“It's been a part of the community for so many years,” he said.
The honor roll listed the names of those who went to war from the old mining community off of Horning Road, known as the Horning Patch. When one of them died, a star was placed next to their name.
The honor roll was upgraded once before, Huebner said.
Ryan held a spaghetti dinner and contacted local businesses and organizations and private donors and raised nearly $3,300 to rebuild the honor roll.
He coordinated others to help with the project.
Hillard works for Pennsylvania American Water Company and got a four-man crew, some volunteering their time to remove the old honor roll, along with a locust tree.
As many as 25 Boy Scouts spent two weekends there digging trenches and installing 20- and 30-foot flag poles “Iwo Jima style.”
A 24-by-26 inch bronze plaque was the first purchase for the project. The project has taught Ryan responsibility, loyalty and leadership, he said.
“It's all about learning life skills,” Hillard said. “It's about leadership and character.”
When the project is finished, hopefully by the end of summer, Ryan plans to hold a rededication and hopes that some of the veterans will attend.
Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.