Eagle Scout Project Addresses “Welcome to Bellingham” SignJan 30, 2020 06:00AM ● By Pamela Johnson
Town Administrator with Andrew McMillen
written by Christine Doyle, Contributing Writer
The “Welcome to Bellingham” sign on Hartford Avenue at the Route 495 interchange had been looking rather weatherworn for many years. It was estimated that the sign had been installed when Home Depot came to town, but it was in need of some TLC. Andrew McMillen of Boy Scout Troop 1, currently a 16-year-old sophomore at Blackstone Valley Technical High School, saw that this would be a great Eagle Scout project since, at the time, Bellingham was celebrating its 300th anniversary.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is quite a distinction because it’s the highest rank within the Boy Scout organization. To attain this goal, a Boy Scout must demonstrate leadership, have been awarded at least 21 merit badges and completed a project that would benefit the community.
Andrew has taken on the role of his troop’s quartermaster for the past four years. Being a quartermaster meant that he took care of materials during campouts and ensured that all of the inventory that went out was accounted for upon the return. He had also fulfilled the number of merit badges needed by having been awarded 27. Andrew’s past volunteer work on four other Eagle Scout projects helped to give him the skills necessary to oversee and work on his own project. During the nine years watching the Eagle Scouts before him provided him with strong role models and motivated him to go for this final step within the Boy Scout organization.
Andrew went to Town Administrator Denis Fraine to propose his project and was immediately given the go-ahead. He recruited volunteers and was impressed at how quickly local businesses responded to his request for material donations. Jared Cohen of A Cut Above Landscaping donated tools, mulch and plants as well as some good advice on landscaping to enhance the look of the sign. Koopman Paint in Milford was also generous with their donation of supplies for the sign makeover. The solar lighting was provided by Troop Leader Stuart Ulsh.
Over the course of the four-day Labor Day weekend Andrew and his crew of seven, including Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts, got to work. They removed the sign so that the posts could have a new coat of stain. Next, the sign was sanded and received fresh paint to enhance the detail on the front, and the back was painted as well. New supports had to be fabricated since the old ones had deteriorated. The mulch and plants were placed below the sign, and the solar lighting was installed by a fellow Scout’s father. As the group worked on the update over the beautiful long holiday weekend, Andrew was encouraged by those passing who waved or honked.
Reflecting on his experience, Andrew is grateful for the help he had during the process and for his previous training. These were very useful to him when he ran into a “hiccup” with the installation, discovering that the supports were too large for the sign. He quickly found a solution for this by removing them from the sign and trimming them down to allow for a better fit.
Once the project was completed Andrew had a wonderful sense of accomplishment, and Town Administrator Denis Fraine was pleased by what he saw. He said, “Andrew’s project involved a lot of planning and a ‘true team effort’ in order to complete the rehabilitation of the Hartford Avenue sign. Andrew’s work clearly exemplified everything an Eagle Scout project should represent in that it benefits the community. He and his fellow scouts created a sign that proudly welcomes residents and visitors to our community, and it is a credit to him and his Troop.”