Historic Hanna's Town improved by Boy Scout who wanted to give back

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 7:16 p.m.

When Jake Salvatore was a little kid, he enjoyed the different summer camps offered at places like Twin Lakes Park, Mammoth Park and Historic Hanna's Town.

So, when it came time for the 15-year-old to plan his Eagle Scout project, he wanted to give back to the Westmoreland County Parks and Recreation Department.

“I enjoyed it. I wanted to do something for them,” said Salvatore, a sophomore at Hempfield Area High School.

Salvatore was directed to waterproof a fence at Historic Hanna's Town, a reconstructed site depicting a Revolutionary War-era settlement. The original seat of Westmoreland County was burned down by Native Americans and their British allies at that time.

The site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has been operated by the Westmoreland County Historical Society in partnership with the parks and recreation department since 1969.

Officials also asked Salvatore to design and construct a woodshed, handy to the fire pit by the pavilion used by Scout troops and school groups throughout the year at the historic site at 809 Forbes Trail Road, between routes 819 and 119.

Joe Wightman of the county's public works department said Salvatore expressed a desire to get involved.

“We try to get behind Scouts and support them,” said Wightman, who helped to get Salvatore started on the project.

Wightman said the finished woodshed is “everything we wanted and more.”

“A lot of times there are budgetary restrictions. This is a win-win for everyone. It's a great program to get behind,” Wightman said.

For Salvatore, the planning phase took at least six months, but the biggest challenge was the actual work.

Although the Scout had his father, Joe Salvatore, his sister, Jenna, along with friends and other Scouts helping, he made an unpleasant discovery about supervising.

“It's hard to lay back and tell people what to do because I wanted to do it all,” said Salvatore, a member of Troop 416. “It's hard to tell people what to do.”

The work was completed during the past two Saturdays.

“The feeling that I did something to help Westmoreland County Park and Recreation — as they provided me so much enjoyment when I was little — was rewarding, as well as the sense of accomplishment because I planned the whole project and carried it out to the end,” Salvatore said.

He learned some lessons while taking the lead on a project for the first time.

“I learned that planning and carrying out a project is not as easy as it seems,” he said. “There is a lot of work behind the scenes that a lot of people may overlook.”

His mother, JoAnne Salvatore, said she is proud of the finished project and the initiative shown by her son, a member of the National Catholic Youth Conference and the high school's marching band and cross country team.

“It's impressive he went to do it on his own,” his mother said. “His goal was to complete it before he turned 16. He'll be 16 in December.”

Michele Stewardson is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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