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Scouting's highest honor

  • SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tony Stianchie stands in paved garden area of the former St. Joseph Cemetery, Summit Hill, which he completed as part of his Eagle Scout project.
    SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Tony Stianchie stands in paved garden area of the former St. Joseph Cemetery, Summit Hill, which he completed as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Published November 04. 2013 05:01PM

Anthony "Tony" Stianchie wanted to attain his Eagle Scout status within the Boy Scouts of America by the time he was 16 years of age.

"Some Scouts lose sight of that goal," he said. "I saw it in many cases where boys would put it (that goal) on the back burner. That stuck with me and I felt it was a good goal to set before I would age-out (Scouts have until age 18 to attain Eagle Scout status)."

Tony accomplished that goal just recently and was recognized for his efforts during a Court of Honor ceremony Saturday in his parish church, St. Joseph Catholic, Summit Hill, where, incidentally, Tony planned and managed a 212-hour project at the church's former cemetery, which dates back to its origin in 1849.

The project included construction of a paved garden area around an existing statue in the historical cemetery, located on the grounds of the church. The statue was erected in 1959 when tombstones there were removed and buried. Within the cemetery are 16 Civil War veterans, as well as three Molly Maguires.

During the excavation work, Tony and the Scouts unearthed a cemetery stone of the Rev. John Scanlon that he decided they would incorporate into the project.

Church records indicate Rev. Scanlon was the first pastor to pass away while serving St. Joseph's, according to the Rev. James Burdess. During Rev. Scanlon's stay, he began the excavation work for a new church building (present structure) but it was left to his successor, the Rev. Hugh Garvey, to complete this work.

On June 21,1882, the cornerstone was laid by the Very Rev. Maurice A. Walsh and the sermon was preached by the pastor's brother, Patrick Garvey, D.D."

Rev. Garvey's next project was the erection of a monument in memory of Rev. Scanlon.

The current monument in the cemetery was erected during the pastorate of Msgr. J. Francis Haley, resulting in a monument of St. Joseph, the church's patron saint, and to the memory of Rev. Scanlon and 16 Civil War veterans. It was dedicated on May 30, 1959.

About the Scout's project, Rev. Burdess said, "I want to thank Anthony for continuing the work started long ago by Father Garvey and Msgr. Haley in recognizing Father Scanlon, who began the initial work of building the current St. Joseph Church.

"Anthony's project of beautifying the area around the statue of St. Joseph will stand as a testament to the ancestors of our faith who are buried in our original cemetery since 1849. We ask that we will continue to be true to their legacy and faith."

"The idea was a combination of thoughts of myself, my father (George) and Fr. (James) Burdess (church pastor)," Tony said. "Initially, Father suggested a layout/flower bed to be a six-point starlike, similar to the GAR star, but we found it was difficult to do and maintain."

Doing the measuring and drawings, Tony improvised and put together plans for the project that required approval not only of the church council and pastor, but the Hawk Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and, eventually, the district's board of review and national approval.

"The project brought awareness to and pays tributes to the important historical site," said George Stianchie.

Tony's service project included developing layout drawings; removal of existing grass and a small flower bed, and regrading the area with proper drainage.

Joined by fellow Scouts, his mother, Maria, and father, and Scoutmaster Chris Santore and Assistant Scoutmaster Gerry Snyder, the work included placement of base materials for 120 square feet of brick pavers that were installed; hand-digging a trench and installing 85 feet of electric cable for lighting of the statue; and installing LED 120-volt spotlights to illuminate the statue, including installation of a photocell and wiring to connect to the church power.

He also installed two concrete benches and planting shrubbery/flowers.

The project, which came in under its $1,000 budget, was aided by Cooper Electric, Allentown, which donated the LED lights that were installed to light up the statue at night, and Panther Valley Lumber, which discounted the materials needed to complete the work. The Carbon County A.O.H. made a financial contribution, apparently to help perpetuate the Molly Maguire connection.

"We've seen Tony really mature and his leadership skills really develop, especially through his Eagle Scout project," said his mother.

"There are many excellent adults, mentors and volunteers who make themselves available to boys to assist them with community involvement as they work toward Eagle Scout status. We are extremely proud of Tony."

His father added, "The whole Scouting organization has had an influence on Tony. It mentored him, and has given him skills that would have otherwise been tough to learn, some skills that other individuals don't learn until they are in their early 20s."

George said Tony also worked for two years at the Hawk Mountain summer camp, where, his father said, "He learned a lot, including giving orders and taking orders. Scouting is a great organization. It's a wholesome, well-built class organization that grew with and built America."

The new Eagle Scout is a member of Scout Troop 744, Nesquehoning, and has been involved in Scouting for 11 years.

Tony began his Scouting journey in first grade when he became a Cub Scout, and he advanced to Webelos II status until he was 10, at which time he joined Troop 744. Through the years, he journeyed through the ranks of Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and, now, Eagle.

The experience, Tony said, provided him great insight about Scouting.

"It means personal morals, being in touch with nature, knowing and being involved in community, knowing what's going on in the world, understanding organizational skills and leadership," he said.

"Scouting taught me good organizational skills. It is something all boys should experience," he suggested.

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