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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Scout project to improve call box visibility

NATICK

Crews of Scouts and parents -- 22 in all -- fanned out across Natick recently to do the bidding of 17-year-old George Weithman.

The Eagle Scout candidate had considered carving walking trails out of lakeside land but settled instead on a more obvious project: sprucing up 33 of the fire department's emergency call boxes.

The project required adding nine new wood strips, each painted red and white, on each of 33 telephone poles that host a call box. The effect dramatically increases the visibility of the devices, which can be used to summon help in an emergency.

Do the math and you'll find Weithman had about 300 36-inch wood strips painted. He then he created a template and set of instructions for each crew doing the work, ensuring uniformity in the finished product.

The challenging part was that Weithman wasn't allowed to do any of the work himself. "I'm not technically allowed to do any of the work," he said in a telephone interview. "It's a leadership project so I told everybody what to do and they did it."

On the fourth day of the project -- after the painting crews were done -- Joseph Zanchi, 11, and Chris Jamieson, 15, were out attaching the strips of wood to poles. It took about a half-hour per pole, the boys said.

With the project complete, Weithman said he's still busy. He has to write a report on the project before he can become an Eagle. Then he can go back to being just the captain of the high school ski team and first chair tenor sax in his school's jazz band.

-- Alison O'Leary Murray

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