When Kyle Behler began his journey to the rank of Eagle Scout, he didn't have to look far for project ideas. Behler, a junior at Jim Thorpe High School, is a member of the West End Fire Co. No. 2 in Palmerton. He knew that a display sign for the fire company would make the perfect project.
"We wanted to advertise and help the fire company with its business," he explained, noting that the building had no way to post messages for the community. "We want to keep the community safe and up-to-date on what kind of events we have."
Thanks to Behler, the fire company will now be able to do this. He recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout by installing a large sign at the fire company, allowing members to share events, fundraisers, and fire safety tips with the community.
He began the project over the summer, using a popular West End Fire Co. fundraiser - pizza sales. The fire company frequently sells vouchers for pizzas, and them makes the pies on site. Once the funds were raised, Behler began the actual installation process in September by digging a trench, running electric lines, and finally bolting the sign to the low wall surrounding the fire house. From start to finish, the project took more than 150 hours to complete.
Helping him to complete the project was his father, Dennis Behler of Palmerton, and more than two dozen volunteers from the fire company. These volunteers helped to raise funds and install the sign.
Behler also received donations from local businesses, including Shea's Hardware in Palmerton, who donated the mounting hardware for the sign. The fire company's Ladies Auxiliary donated funds to pay for the sign itself.
Behler spoke with fire company members during their monthly meetings, first asking for permission to install the sign and them providing updates as the project progressed.
"Everybody was happy about it. It was a good project," he said. "There was no cost to the fire company, and they were very happy about that."
Behler has been involved with scouts since he was 8 years old. Since the very beginning, he's had the goal of making Boy Scout's top rank.
"In the beginning, they asked us what our goal was. I wanted to get to Eagle Scout," he said.
Eagle Scout is the highest status within Boy Scouts, which is broken into six unique ranks. Young men progress through these ranks by earning merit badges and must, in the case of Eagle Scout, complete a special project and demonstrate leadership, service, and outdoor skills. About five percent of Boy Scouts began Eagle Scouts last year. Boy Scouts must complete the project and badges for Eagle before their 18th birthday.
For Behler, the project has a special meaning because several members of his family involved with the fire company. His father Dennis is Assistant Chief at West End Fire Co. No. 2, and his brother Jason is Captain.
Kyle expressed gratitude towards both his father and scoutmaster Ray Attewell. Both encouraged him to continue the project and complete the Eagle Scout rank.
"I couldn't have done it without them," he said.
Kyle officially earned his new rank on November 19, after visiting the district advancement committee of Minsi Trails Council.