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Originally published in Castine Patriot, September 27, 2012
Penobscot teen takes on church walkway to earn Eagle Scout badge

Penobscot teen Justin Willis

Penobscot teen Justin Willis has been revamping the entrance walk to the Penobscot Methodist Church to help fill requirements to become an Eagle Scout. Mixing cement, laying footings, and building a low wall of natural granite bricks—the work has been ongoing since Spring of 2011.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

Since spring of 2011, Justin Willis, a resident of Penobscot and aspiring Eagle Scout, has been meticulously constructing a low brick wall for the entrance walkway of the Penobscot Methodist Church.

To become an Eagle Scout, a Boy Scout has to take on a community service project. A church member, hearing that Willis wanted to fill this requirement, passed the walkway project idea on to him.

Willis applied to the Eagle Scout Board of Directors in Orono and was approved to start the project.

The Eagle Scout Board of Directors in Orono accepts a wide range of project proposals, Willis said. “It’s pretty open in that respect.”

Working on the Methodist Church has brought Willis full circle—he attended his first Scout meeting at the church, a charter scouting organization, 10 years ago nearly to the day.

“I was a tiger [Scout] when I was five,” Willis said. With father Dana Willis as local Cub Scout master, Willis’s scouting path was pretty assured.

“I was a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout,” he said.

After the board of directors gave its okay, Willis began the “countless hours” digging, pouring cement, and laying granite bricks.

“Lots of this is weather dependent,” he said.

Natural granite brick is harder to lay than fired bricks, he explained, because each stone is a slightly different shape, with rough edges. “They’re not uniform.”

“Other people have helped a lot,” Willis said, like his father, Penobscot residents Toby Wardwell and Jamie Gross, who helped mix up cement and pour the footings, and a “troop of eighth-graders.”

Donated materials helped him get started, Willis said, and after the project is done, he plans on fundraising to help reimburse the material outlay, including sending letters to church members.

“They seem to like how it’s going,” said Willis, as he pored over samples of crushed stone, trying to decide on the top-finish for the foot-high wall.

Willis didn’t have to make the decision alone. Like the project work to date, he had some help, this time from Dana and his mother, Cynthia.