Warm spring temperatures and sunny days may soon lure members of Reynoldsburg VFW Post 9473 outside to enjoy a new deck and patriotic landscaping thanks to a local Boy Scout.
Jonathan Caruso, a junior at Reynoldsburg eSTEM Academy and a member of Boy Scout Troop 826, planned and built a deck along the south wall of the VFW building at 1420 S. Waggoner Road as his Eagle Scout project.
"I chose the VFW Post for my project not only because my Boy Scout troop is based there, but because my grandfather is a retired master sergeant in the United States Air Force who served for 22 years during the Vietnam War," he said. "My brother is also in the military -- he's a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, stationed in California."
Caruso and about a dozen scouts from his troop built all but the railing of the 8-foot by 14-foot deck Saturday, April 19.
"We worked about nine hours," he said. "Everything turned out better than I expected. I raised more for the materials than I expected and got more discounts than I expected to get."
He expects to finish the deck April 26.
Mark Pheister, VFW post quartermaster and liaison for Troop 826, said he was happy to OK the deck project.
"I told Jon we could really use a deck in that area for our catering people," he said. "He showed me the plan and I think he's doing a really good job getting it done. We're really glad to have it."
Pheister said the VFW sponsors Troop 826.
"They are good kids and they have some really good leaders," he said.
The funds for the deck -- $2,300 -- came from a massive bake sale held at nearby St. Pius X Catholic Church, 1051 Waggoner Road, where Caruso is a member.
"My mom and I did a lot of the baking, but we also got donations from the troop," he said.
St. Pius will benefit from the second half of Caruso's Eagle Scout project; he plans to build a bookshelf to hold music books.
"I chose to build a rolling bookshelf unit because the books that will be held on the bookshelf are currently stacked ridiculously high on top of a small wooden stand," Caruso said.
The last part of his project includes new landscaping on the VFW grounds, which Caruso expects to plant around May 3.
"When considering which plants to use for the area, I chose low-maintenance perennials in red, white and blue," he said. "Not only will they provide a lot of color, but they should provide a nice background for people taking photographs at VFW events. To reduce watering costs, I'm also incorporating rain barrels into the plan."
Caruso said he was inspired to achieve Eagle Scout rank after being active in scouting for about 10 years.
"As I got through the scouting ranks, I decided to go for Eagle Scout, especially after Adam Schneider, one of my friends and a former Eagle Scout, passed away," he said.
Schneider, 29, had been a founding member of Troop 826 and leader of a youth group at St. Pius X. He died in September 2013 due to health problems associated with pulmonary hypertension.
Caruso said becoming an Eagle Scout means earning 21 merit badges, serving in leadership positions and planning and executing a major project of benefit to the community.
"I think if you want to be an Eagle Scout, you should set the bar a little higher each time," he said. "Big projects like this are more work, but they can really benefit the community."