Boy Scout Ian Wilson, 15, with Troop 1982, is earning his Eagle Scout badge with community service of raising some of the sunken headstones in the Corvallis cemetery.
“I was in the cemetery one day walking around to see all the headstones and I noticed there was a bunch sunk into the ground,” Wilson said. “I talked to my troupe leader and he said raising them would be a great Eagle Scout project.”
Wilson developed his plan, had is troop leader approve it then proposed his project to the Boy Scout Unit Committee, the Boy Scout District Committee and Corvallis cemetery.
“Groundskeeper, Steve Boshae, said sinking headstones is an ongoing issue and it would be useful to have help so he doesn’t have to do it himself,” Wilson said.
Scout Master Justin Simmons said he was just there to lend a hand, Saturday.
“Ian is completely in charge of this project,” Simmons said. “That’s part of the Eagle Scout project — learning leadership skills. The leaders sit back and let the Eagles do all of the projects.”
Eagle projects can be service to the community or church.
“We strive for something to the community and they need to do a significant project of volunteer hours,” Simmons said. “Ian gathers the volunteers and tracks their hours.”
Steve Boshae, the sexton at Corvallis Cemetery, said this project is a great help.
“We have a lot of work at Corvallis Cemetery,” Boshae said. “There are over 4,000 stones that we have to weed eat around and a lot of projects on the back burner and we can’t get all of them done. There is constant work to do.”
He said this project helps and he appreciates their efforts.
“We definitely have over 100 stones that are sunk,” Boshae said. “Some of them are larger ones that need a hoist. About four years ago we had a gentleman from back east put on a seminar and he showed how to lift the larger stones, he used a winch. He showed us how to clean them, it was interesting.”
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The Chaffin cemetery was moved to the location on the bench southeast of Corvallis in the 1880s. Corvallis Cemetery was incorporated in 1920.
After Boshae gave a “how-to” demonstration that involved removing sod, finding the edge of the cement the stone is laid in, prying it up, adding gravel tamped down underneath and replacing the stone, the 20 plus volunteers, age 10 to 60, split into teams and went to work.
The project began at 8 a.m. and concluded at 1 p.m. with 35 volunteers. After 88 volunteer hours, the workers had lifted 55 sunken stones.
“Will it sink again? Probably, gravity works,” Boshae said. “But if they are done right, they won’t sink for years. Whatever they got done will be a lot of help.”
Wilson said it is important for him to get his Eagle.
“It means I’ve worked hard for something I tried to get for a while,” he said. “It is not a simple one-year thing, I’ve been working on it for six years now. It shows that I’ve worked for it.”
After the project, Wilson said he feels relieved.
“I’m feeling pretty great that I got it done,” he said. “It was harder in the beginning but once we got doing stones it was easier. We had a lot of four-wheelers donated which made the project a whole lot easier. It feels so good to be done.”
Wilson said now he completes the required paperwork and submits it to another board for approval.
“If they don’t approve it, then I’ll have to do another project,” he said.
Wilson will start his sophomore year at Corvallis High School this fall.