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By DANELLE LANDIS
Daily News Staff Writer
Maury Meiresonne was determined, from the moment he became a Boy Scout at the age of 11, to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
“I’m here for my Eagle,” he said he remembers thinking.
Meiresonne, a Ketchikan High School senior, was awarded the Eagle Scout rank on Jan. 12 in a ceremony at the Holy Name Catholic Church sanctuary.
“I just enjoyed seeing the amount of people who came,” Meiresonne said.
More than 30 people — family members and friends from the scouting community — attended to celebrate his achievement.
To earn the Eagle Scout rank, a scout must fulfill requirements in the areas of leadership, service and outdoor skills, according to Boy Scouts of America information. More than 2.25 million scouts have earned the honor since 1912. People who are included in those ranks include astronaut Neil Armstrong, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and film director Steven Spielberg.
Of the 21 badges that must be earned on the way to becoming an Eagle Scout, 13 must be from mandatory areas such as first aid, citizenship in the community and the nation, emergency preparedness, personal fitness and family life.
The final requirement is the service project, for which the Eagle Scout candidate researches, plans and manages a project.
“You have to do something for your community,” Meiresonne said.
Meiresonne’s community service project was the installation of a flagpole on the Esther Shea field at Fawn Mountain Elementary School.
He said he was at a football game a while ago when Assistant Scout Master Phillip Martin suggested that the field could really use a proper flagpole. At that time, a temporary four-foot pole was set on the field for games.
Meiresonne decided that would be his mission.
He began the process to clear the project with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, and enlisted the help and support of Public Works Director Alex Peura.
“That was the plan, originally, to have someone of that caliber to be helping with this,” Meiresonne said.
He also began what he called the most difficult aspect of the project: the Eagle Scout project paperwork. Meiresonne said his mother, Ann Marie Meiresonne, helped with that.
A first step in getting an Eagle Scout community service project approved in the Southern Southeast area is to get the paperwork to Advancement Chairman Amie Ericksen on Prince of Wales Island, Meiresonne said. When the project is verified, the paperwork moves forward and fundraising for the project starts.
Meiresonne said donations for the project came from several community organizations, including his church, the American Legion, the Coast Guard Officer’s Association and Coast Guard Petty Officer’s Association. Alaska Marine Lines also donated shipping costs incurred when it carried the flagpole package to Ketchikan from “Flags A’Flying” in Tacoma, Washington.
The 38-and-a-half-foot pole came in two pieces, accompanied by an assembly manual and an American flag. It was delivered to the field by Public Works employees.
Meiresonne said he and his father, Jim Meiresonne, were able to carry the aluminum sections to the far end of the field, where Peura and Maury Meiresonne had decided was the best location for the pole.
Public works employees used a backhoe to dig out the area where the pole would be seated, then concrete and sand were used along with a vertically-installed plastic piece of culvert pipe to stabilize the pole’s base. It stands at 36-feet tall after installation. Meiresonne said they installed the pole on a cold, rainy day, but the process went smoothly.
“It was a learning experience, I will admit that,” he said. “But, it was a good one.”
On the side of the flagpole is a lockbox to protect the flag lines from being tampered with. The flag is only flown during sporting events, and safely stored at other times.
Meiresonne said that Eagle Scout projects fulfill the goal that that Boy Scouts of America has to encourage scouts to become responsible and independent.
“Basically, ‘Now we’ve held your hand, go out and start getting the merit badges,’” Meiresonne said is the message to freshly minted boy scouts. Young people are about 11 years old when they start that program.
Scouts have until they are 18 years old to complete their paperwork for an Eagle Scout project, Meiresonne said, adding that earning the Eagle Scout rank has many positive benefits.
“It’s hard, but it’s definitely worth it,” he said. “It’s an accomplishment that can help you set up the rest of your life.”
He mentioned that the honor can really boost the power of a college application, for instance.
Meiresonne said he plans to earn a master’s degree in chemistry, then possibly achieve a degree in forensic science.
“I’d recommend to try scouting,” Meiresonne said. “Girls and boys, both.”
Gazing across the rain-soaked field at the flagpole this past Friday afternoon, Meiresonne said, “If someone told me seven years ago, ‘Hey, that flagpole — you’re going to build that,’ I would have been, like ‘Wow, cool!’”