MARC CHASE: Eagle Scout provides soaring example of cooperation

2013-09-17T00:00:00Z MARC CHASE: Eagle Scout provides soaring example of cooperationMarc Chase marc.chase@nwi.com, (219) 662-5330 nwitimes.com
September 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It's a wonder the upcoming generations in Northwest Indiana have any civility toward one another at all given the way they see some of the adults behave toward one another.

But in the past few months, I've met an Illinois kid who is here to show us all how to cooperate for the greater good.

Lansing Boy Scout Kyle Bergfors, 16, recently completed the service project required for his Eagle Scout award. As an Eagle alumnus from more than two decades ago, I'm here to tell you earning this rank is no walk in the park.

Kyle's public service project alone entailed 165 service hours from six fellow Scouts and five adults, all led by him.

The service hours are impressive by themselves, but they pale in comparison to the project the young man chose and the way in which he executed it.

Kyle chose to provide cosmetic landscaping around the flagpole and water spigot at Hammond's Oak Hill Cemetery -- a massive burial ground that had been plagued for many years by mismanagement, headstones being discarded like trash from grave sites and overgrown burial lots. North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan took it over and began to turn things around within the past couple of years.

Kyle saw this and wanted to tackle a project that would improve the burial ground, which includes the graves of hundreds of veterans. He also wanted to see a flag fly once again on the damaged pole of the historical cemetery.

One of the Oak Hill veterans is Kyle's great-great-great-grandfather -- a Civil War veteran -- making the project personal.

A combination of lawn-mowing money and donations provided the landscaping bricks, gravel and other materials to turn the dirt areas surrounding the flag staff and cemetery water source into attractive, erosion-resistant sites. More sweat and hard work took care of the rest.

Kyle's project had a dose of political savvy too. He reached out to Mrvan, and the project attracted U.S. House Rep. Pete Visclosky, various region preservation groups and Indiana state Rep. Linda Lawson.

He also garnered the support of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, whose South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail includes grave sites at Oak Hill. The CVA tracked down J&M Flagpole Installation, of South Bend, which refurbished the pole gratis.

With Kyle as the leader and his Eagle project as the focal point, the work and cooperation he inspired all came to a head at Oak Hill this past weekend.

He led Scouts from his Lansing Troop 276 in a special flag ceremony, and Visclosky presented Kyle with a U.S. flag -- which once flew over the Capitol in Washington and now flies over Oak Hill. Lawson contributed an Indiana state flag to fly below the U.S. colors.

Kyle did something extraordinary by reaching across government, political and residential boundaries. He did it by fostering cooperation.

We can only hope other government leaders in Lake and Porter counties are taking note. A 16-year-old just schooled us all in good government.

Investigative Editor Marc Chase can be reached at (219) 662-5330 or marc.chase@nwi.com. The opinions are the writer's.

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