After months of labor-intensive planning, organizing, leading, and constructing, Thomas Hillemeier has completed a pair of dugouts for his Eagle Scout project. Photo by Mitch George
By Mitch George
Byron Boy Scout Thomas Hillemeier just completed his stellar Eagle Scout project.
He, with the help of family, friends, fellow scouts, and adult volunteers, began construction on two dugouts at Olde Towne Park on May 14. This project of nearly 3 months was made possible with the passion, hard work, and motivation of Thomas' peers.
Hillemeier had to organize every part of the project from start to finish. He had to get city approval, obtain building permits, obtain supplies and funds, and then finish the job. He organized and attended over 25 meetings just to make sure everyone was on the same page. Thomas' father, JR, said, "He has learned so much throughout the course of this project. He has learned about construction, management, and city government." Thomas also explained that in total, the planning, organizing, and actual construction of this project took just over 300 hours.
The first step of the project was moving gravel from the parking lot to the construction site. Thomas said he moved "at least 200 wheelbarrows full of gravel from the parking lot". However, this was not the most difficult part according to Hillemeier. "The hardest part of the project was leading others. Sometimes leading by example isn't so easy", he said.
Next, he poured concrete for the dugouts to sit upon. After this came the laying of the bricks and mortaring them together. Keep in mind, he had to do this for both dugouts. After laying the brick, he needed to affix sturdy wooden posts to support the roof, and then cut the wood and place the supporting beams in place. Plywood then had to be laid down, then this plywood needed to be papered and felted. Finally, the dugouts were shingled and finishing touches were added.
When asked why he picked such a strenuous Eagle Scout project, he said, "I wanted to do something that would actually be beneficial and be used on a regular basis, something that would remain for years to come. I wanted people to look at what I did and say, 'Now that's an Eagle Scout project.'"
He says he got the idea to build these dugouts "in early 2013, when Pat Splinter (current president of the Byron Youth Baseball Association) told me they wished to construct dugouts at Olde Towne Park".
In the end, thanks to some outstanding support by great area organizations and loving family members, Thomas finished the project without a penny out-of-pocket. "The entire project totaled approximately $6200, but all the labor was free because I had a large amount of volunteer help", Hillemeier said.
When asked what the most rewarding part of the project was, Thomas said it was serving the community. "The community and the Byron Youth Baseball Association have helped grow me as a person. It feels right to give back to them," he responded.
Read the rest of the story in the Byron Review print edition.