SHIRLEY -- The Boy Scouts have been involved in lighting and decorating Whiteley Park for the holidays for years, and each year there has been a concern about the extensive use of extension cords there.
When Shirley Boy Scout leader Jim McGrath mentioned the safety issue to Life Scout Dan Henderson, Henderson decided that installing proper wiring at the park would make a good Eagle Scout project, the main purpose of which is "to help other people at all times."
A Nashoba Valley Technical High School junior, Henderson has been involved in the Boy Scouts of America since first-grade.
"I believe it is one of the best organizations out there," he said recently.
Henderson, whose father Dave is an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 7, had been searching for a good project that would fulfill the Eagle Scout requirements.
The service project helps a Scout to demonstrate or learn and develop leadership skills, and to gain experience in project management and taking responsibility for a significant accomplishment.
With the help of his fellow Shirley Troop 7 Scouts and Scout leaders, Henderson installed two new outdoor double-gang electrical outlets in the park that will reduce the number of extension cords needed for lighting.
Henderson said that in order to do this, he first had to make a presentation and gain permission from the Shirley Board of Selectman, call DigSafe, and review his plan with the Shirley Department of Public Works.
Former Troop 7 Scoutmaster Randy Graves, a licensed electrician, volunteered to pull the electrical permit and help do the electrical work.
The project required the digging of a two-foot by 46-foot-long trench to bury the conduit.
"Initially, the Scouts were going to dig the trench by hand, but Bob Prescott, of Prescott Landscaping, donated his Yanmar mini-excavator and an operator named Josh to dig the trench," Henderson said.
The rest of the project was completed with the help of 21 volunteers.
"This project was completed with no cost to the town," Henderson said. "Most of the money used to purchase materials was raised at a vegetable stand in front of my house that I built with my father.
Randy Graves donated the long sections of PVC pipe and wire.
Henderson said that in achieving Eagle Scout status and completing a worthwhile project for the town, he hopes to set an example for other Scouts.
With an interest in computer science and programming, the future Eagle Scout plans to stay active in Troop 7 until he turns 18 next year.
"After that," he said, "I hope to continue helping as an adult leader."