2012-04-12 / Lifestyles

Stairway to heaven

Eagle Scout project includes steps in Pioneer Cemetery
by JULIE HALM
Reporter


Ryan Fishback enlisted the help of many members of the community in designing, collecting materials for and eventually building a flight of steps in Pioneer Cemetery to complete his Eagle Scout project. Ryan Fishback enlisted the help of many members of the community in designing, collecting materials for and eventually building a flight of steps in Pioneer Cemetery to complete his Eagle Scout project. Ryan Fishback simply stands out. He stands out as an

Eagle Scout — the highest rank attainable for a

Boy Scout — and his Eagle project stood out to Peggy Cooke, director of the Town of Aurora Parks and Recreation Department, as one of the best Eagle projects ever completed in the community, of which there have been quite a few.

Past projects have ranged from path clearing and creation to the aeration of old-growth trees, but Cooke said Fishback did an especially notable job.

“Eagle Scout projects are not easy. They have a lot of requirements to meet, and they stand out as leaders in our community,” Cooke said. “We’re very lucky. We have a very high percentage of Eagle Scout projects here. Ryan’s project stands out among those.”

According to Fishback, who has been a Scout since 2001, part of what set him on the road to becoming an Eagle Scout was the desire to be like his father, who also earned the Boy Scout’s highest rank.

The young man approached Cooke last year, looking for a place to begin what would turn into a year-and-a-half endeavor, and the recreation director said she was more than happy to supply him with ideas.

Among other ideas, Cooke suggested that he create some sort of entrance to Pioneer Cemetery, located on Oakwood Avenue.

“He really jumped on that opportun ity,” Cooke said.

After deciding to give the cemetery a face-lift, Fishback set to work. According to Cooke, he went far beyond the minimum effort required to complete his project.

Initially, a flight of stone steps was slated to lead from the road into the cemetery, which is up a notable incline.

By the time his project was completed, Fishback had installed a winding set of slate steps, landscaped the area on either side and provided a sizeable stone bench nearby. Additionally, the Scout gave the extra funds collected to the cemetery for its future upkeep.

Getting to the project’s finish line was neither easy nor a journey Fishback undertook alone. Knowing next to nothing about the construction of steps when he undertook the endeavor, Fishback looked to those he knew, as well as members of the community, for knowledge and donated materials.

He then had to get his plans approved by the town before he was able to modify the grounds of the cemetery, which he said he had trouble with and took a considerable amount of time.

“Usually, Eagle Scout projects are a lot quicker than this,” the Scout said.

None of this stopped Fishback, however.

“He’s a great young man,”

Cooke said of the now Eagle

Scout. “He’s very focused, and he’s very dedicated.”

It was focus and dedication that got Fishback through the initial planning, collecting and approving, to the point where he could finally get to work physically on his project.

When the day came to break ground, Fishback found that while he was giving back to his community, Aurora had no problem helping him out, either.

Roughly 40 volunteers, including Scouts from his troop, Scouts from other local troops, classmates and parents, showed up to give Fishback a hand.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting that many people to show up,” said Fishback. “I was expecting maybe 20.”

According to Cooke, Fishback’s additions to the cemetery have made a true difference.

“Before, it was easy enough to miss it altogether,” Cooke said.

Now, the eye-catching stairs, bench and landscaping have given the cemetery new life.

email: julieh@beenews.com

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