The Whitehall Recreation Center has a new flagpole, courtesy of Michael Vandenburgh.
Vandenburgh, 17, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 6083 and has been since he was 11.
He put up the new flagpole as his community service project to become an Eagle Scout. He submitted his paperwork to make it official on Monday.
To become an Eagle Scout, you must achieve seven different ranks from the moment you join to when you finish with the Boy Scouts. You must obtain eight required badges, then 11 badges of your choice.
“The project itself, fundraising and everything, started in October, so it took about four months,” Vandenburgh said. “Three months of fundraising and a month of planning and putting the pole in.”
Julie Eagan, the head of the Recreation Center, said that the finished product is better than they had hoped for.
She said that the lights really highlight the flags.
“We at the Rec and Town are very grateful to Michael for the flagpole project and the outstanding job he did to make it happen,” Eagan said.
Vandenburgh had help from his fellow scouts and his parents to get the pole up. It started with a can drive.
“I raised $1,500 on just cans alone,” he said. “Without (my fellow scouts and parents) it wouldn’t have happened,” he said.
Vandenburgh’s stepfather and troop leader Frank Usher wasn’t so sure that a can drive was the best way to raise money.
Vandenburgh has a can phobia.
“He’s got a terrible phobia of soda cans in the first place, so to do a can drive made no sense at all, but it worked out for him in the end,” he said.
Vandenburgh played sports at the Recreation Center throughout his childhood. He said that they hadn’t had a flagpole for most of those years.
Sometimes they had the flag on a clothesline so they could say the pledge or sing the National Anthem.
The new pole has a solar-powered light on top. This way you can see the flag all the time.
“You can always see it, no matter what time it is,” he said.
Both of the flags that are on the pole were donated by the American Legion.
Vandenburgh’s mother, Dawn Usher, said she has been thrilled to watch her son achieve this goal.
“He did it all on his own for the most part,” she said. “It’s something that he likes, it’s something that he enjoys.”
Frank Usher said that he has been around for him for about three years.
He said that Vandenburgh is an “island” in terms of the number of older scouts in the troop.
“Everyone his age has either gone to school or just kind of given up on it,” he said. “It was really nice to see him get this accomplishment.”
Dawn emphasized the need for new scouts to join the troop. There are only seven scouts currently enrolled in troop 6083, the minimum requirement.
“We need scouts, otherwise our troop 6083 isn’t going to be able to stay afloat,” she said.
You have to be at least 11 years old, graduated fifth grade or acquired their Arrow of Light through the Cub Scouts.
Vandenburgh is happy with the work that he has done. He said that it is great to see the finished product.
“I know my siblings that play there appreciate it, I know the other scouts who helped me appreciate it and I know the kids who have been down there have told Julie (Eagan) that they liked it,” he said.