The 17-year-old member of Boy Scout Troop 502 is refurbishing eight benches between Corral Hollow Road and Lincoln Boulevard to meet the requirements for earning an Eagle Scout badge.
Each aspiring Eagle Scout must complete a service project and pass a review board before earning the distinction.
It’s an idea that the homeschooled Clark said he learned about from a fellow Boy Scout, who has since moved to Idaho with his family.
“I really liked the idea,” he said. “So, when he moved, I figured I would just do it, since I already had an idea of what needed to be done.”
Clark, assisted by several friends volunteering their time, removes the benches and takes them to his house, where the wooden boards are removed and stripped of old paint. The group then adds new layers of primer and paint and reassembles each bench before returning it to its original location.
“It’s taken a little longer than I thought, because many of them are chipping or look faded,” he said. “Some of the benches were so old that the bolts were rusted and we couldn’t get them off, and the wood was rotting on some of the others.”
Project guidelines dictate that Clark raise his own funds for the work. With donations and a fundraiser, he was able to cover the roughly $200 of supplies that were needed. Clark also said the city of Tracy’s Public Works Department gave him paint, and a local lumber company provided wood.
“Everyone was very helpful when they heard what I was doing,” he said.
As chairman of the San Joaquin District Advancement Program of the Boy Scouts of America, Mark Cota oversees and approves all Eagle Scout projects within in the district, which includes Tracy, and is a member of the board of review that makes the final decision when confirming new Eagle Scout members.
“This is a lot of hard work, because these benches were in bad shape,” Cota said about Clark’s project. “I thought and the city thought it was a good idea.
“I thought it was really out-of-the-box from what some of the other kids come up with.”
However, Clark’s efforts have drawn unintended attention from local police.
During his first night of work, the Tracy Police Department received a call that a group of children were stealing benches. A second incident occurred Friday, Dec. 2, when a caller reported to police that it appeared teenagers were stealing power tools from a van. The vehicle, Clark said, was his father’s, adding that each time, police left the scene once they learned what he was doing.
“I guess I knew people would be watching, because we were out in public working,” he said, “but it was kind of a shock when they did come up to us. I guess it’s a good thing that citizens are worried and watching.”
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