Boy Scout designs and builds benches for Boca | SierraSun.com
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Boy Scout designs and builds benches for Boca

ABHUTCHISON, Sierra Sun

Soon-to-be Eagle Scout Joey Rzeplenski was able to literally sit upon his hard work last week.

As part of his achievement of Eagle Scout status, Rzeplenski had to initiate and complete his own service project. He chose to design, construct and install four benches at the Boca Townsite Interpretive Trail and the Prosser Interpretive Trail, the only two trails in the Truckee area that are handicap/wheelchair accessible.

Working with the U.S. Forest Service, which paid for the materials for the project, Rzeplenski began work in early May. He found someone in Squaw Valley who helped with bench design, and then made a few of his own changes to the general design after consulting with Bill Davis from the Forest Service.

Truckee Ranger District Archaeologist Carrie Smith helped oversee the project and work with Rzeplenski and his Troop 267 crew.

“They’re out here volunteering for us. It’s been great to work with Joey,” Smith said. “We thought that would be a nice component to add to these two trails because they’re the only accessible trails in the district.”

Smith recommended the project idea to Troop 267 Scout Master Larry Ochoa, who contacted the Forest Service and said that Eagle Scouts were interested in a project. Smith said if Rzeplenski hadn’t taken on the project, the benches might never have gone in.

“We don’t have funding for projects like this,” Smith said.

Rzeplenski drove down to Reno to spend the day shopping for the best buy for wood for the project. Supply One gave Rzeplenski the best deal and because he was working on a Boy Scout project, delivered the wood for almost free, he said.

Troop 267 constructed the benches in Rzeplenski’s back yard, which was an all day effort. The benches are high enough off the ground to accommodate wheelchair users. They also have high back rests which allow the body to actually rest, Smith said.

Last weekend, Rzeplenski and some other scouts put the benches in on the two trails, two on each trail. The benches went in in just the perfect amount of time – Rzeplenski has until his 18th birthday to complete his Eagle Scout project. He will be 18 on Sept. 30.

“This is the first step. I hope to have everything completed in the next couple of weeks so the paper work process can begin,” Rzeplenski said.

He is a senior at Tahoe-Truckee High School and works part-time at the Squaw Valley High Camp Skating Rink during the year. Eagle Scout is the seventh level of Scouts. Scouts must earn 21 merit badges and complete 40 hours of community service as well as their own service project.

Rzeplenski’s father and Troop 267 assistant Scout Master, Paul, is very proud of Joey.

“This has been a very involved process,” Paul said. “It’s taken about 6 months to get to this stage. But that’s why Eagles are so rare, because it takes a commitment to follow a job through and get it done.”

When the scouts finished putting in the benches, they took a load off and tested out their craftsmanship.

“Yeah, this is pretty comfortable,” Rzeplenski said proudly. “This is nice.”

Troop 267 has about 38 scouts and is the only troop in Truckee.


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