NORTH CANTON Derek McKinney wanted to so something "more unique and more fun" than simply building benches and spreading mulch as part of his Eagle Scout community project. Instead, the recent Hoover High School graduate got out a chainsaw and restored a work of art.
"Two years ago, a man created a totem pole and put the pole up at Orchard Hill Elementary School, but the pole was damaged," said McKinney, who is the son of Holly St. George and Mike McKinney. "The pole was located in the back of the school and the pole is now located in the front of the school."
McKinney explained the restoration process in order to receive his Eagle Scout badge.
"We cut the pole down and put the pole on a truck," said McKinney, who will attend Bowling Green State University to study marine biology. "Galen Alpeter, who is a carver, allowed me to take the pole and set up the pole in his garage. I bought putty, glue and varnish. We let the pole dry to get the moisture out and let all of the bugs crawl out. Then we glued the inside. Mr. Alpeter worked on the tiny details.
"The project idea was Galen’s. He was interested in fixing the pole. We started the project in the winter and put the pole in the ground in spring."
McKinney, as is typical with all Eagle Scout projects, did the fundraising to pay for the restoration. The fundraiser was so successful, in fact, that he will be able to help future scouts with their projects.
"My projected cost about $200 to $250 to completed," said McKinney, who has an older sibling, Ty, and two younger sisters, Gracie and Samantha. "I was lucky that I was able to get a telephone pole donated. I did a dine out at McDonald’s on Applegrove and Main Street and received 15 percent of the proceeds in a four-hour window. I got the word out through school announcements and flyers. I raised more than $600. The additional $400 will go toward other projects."
The challenging part for most young men earning the Eagle Scout award is to lead the project, which in many times is their first experience supervising youths and adults.
"This project taught me to make a plan," said McKinney, who put 48 hours into this project himself. His crew consisted of Seth and Sean Brown, his stepfather Drew St. George and Alpeter. "Then I needed to plan for variables. There were times we designated times to meet but people couldn’t. I learned to manage time, go with the flow and realized that the adults were sometimes reluctant to do what I asked. No one wants to listen to a teenager."
McKinney, who was on the Hoover High School swim team and competed at the state meet in the 200-meter relay and qualified for nationals with the North Canton YMCA swim team this past year, explained putting the finish product in place.
"Micah Barns, my best from other another troop and my step dad helped me put the pole in at the school," said McKinney, who enjoys working out and his job at the North Canton YMCA. "We dug the hole, cut the pole to size and placed the pole in the ground. That night we were hungry, so we got some pizza. The next day, the principal called and said the kids really liked the pole and teachers were taking their class out to look at it. The pole has an owl, Indian, deer and eagle. "
McKinney’s journey into the Boy Scouts began as a cub scout when his mom encouraged him to try it along with many other activities.
"Once she saw I liked the scouts, she encouraged me to stick with it and get my eagle." said McKinney, who added his mom helped him with camp outs, popcorn sales and other activities. "Boy Scouts is fun and was a positive experience. I enjoyed the camp outs, high adventures in Florida Keys and the friendships that will last a lifetime. I would definitely tell younger kids to do scouts. You learn life skills like how to tie a knot, behave out in public, earn merit badges, star gazing and how to go on a proper date. It is truly a blast."
McKinney started with Scout Troop 205 in Canton South. But when the leader stepped down and no one took over, he came to North Canton and joined Jim Strauch’s troop. At the same time, he was moving to North Canton.
"I knew several of the kids in the troop from scouting and swimming, so it was an easy transition," said McKinney.