Eagle Scout project creates new sign for Babb's

By Gregory A. Scibelli - Staff Writer
Windsor Locks - posted Fri., Jun. 17, 2011
Kevin O'Kane earned his Eagle Scout rank. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest rank a Boy Scout can earn, and only 2 percent of Boy Scouts attain that rank, which is an achievement that can be carried throughout one’s life.

Kevin O’Kane, a graduate of Suffield High School and a member of the Windsor Locks Boy Scout Troop 263, was bestowed with the honor on June 5, after completing his Eagle Scout project late last fall, beating out the deadline to apply for the rank, which is a Scout's 18th birthday.

Coming back to his roots in Suffield, O’Kane led Scouts in a project that enhanced the looks of a long-time restoration project.

In 1997, Babb’s Roller Skating Rink and the nearby Babb’s Beach was closed, due to several code violations. The historic building was a longtime landmark of recreation for Congamond Lake residents in Southwick, Mass., and Suffield.

The building fell into disrepair and then became a project of the Citizens Restoring Congmaond. The CRC formed several years ago to work on projects on the lake. The organization is helping to lead the effort to restore the area, including Babb’s.

Many fundraisers, grants and other donations have helped the lake, as has O’Kane and the project performed by Troop 263.

“I have never seen a person lead the way Kevin did,” said John Silliman, chair of the Scout Committee. “I took part in one of the workdays and I saw so many Scouts come out to help him.”

O’Kane led the Scouts in the creation of an information sign. The sign resembles a billboard and an informational board. The project construction was the easiest part of the project, O’Kane said, but he learned there was more than just construction involved in erecting a sign.

O’Kane said he had to submit several drawings to the Planning and Zoning Commission in Suffield and subsequently had to make several changes to the sign before he was allowed to start construction.

Silliman said the project not only gave O’Kane a sense of leadership and project preparation, but he also gained a lot of civic understanding about the process.

“There is a lot more work than just getting people together and putting up a sign,” said Silliman. “There are processes and procedures you have to follow, as well as getting permits. Kevin got a lot more than he originally bargained for.”

O’Kane said the delays were frustrating, but late last fall, he was able to put together workdays to finally do the project, once the logistical hurdles were behind him.

He used many recycled materials and worked closely with Babb’s Restoration Project officials to build a sign that will contain updated information about the project and its status.

Silliman commended O’Kane’s commitment to Scouting at the Eagle Scout ceremony, and said he is one of a few special young people that see the Scouting ranks all the way through. Eagle Scouts often get special consideration in applying for jobs or other positions, making the achievement even more special.

O’Kane received thanks and recognition from local dignitaries, as well as state political officials.

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