Scout project to honor the flag

In the footsteps of the projects before him, Boy Scout Mitch Haren chose to serve the community by constructing a flag retirement ceremony fire pit at Tiffin American Veterans Post No. 48 for his Eagle Scout project.

Troop Leader Mike Longanbach said the Boy Scouts of America only require 20 hours of planning and 40 hours of work to complete their Eagle Scout projects.

“Eagle Scout projects, the ones that we do, usually take over 400 hours,” Longanbach said.

Recently, Longanbach’s troop completed Travis Gase’s community-wide Seneca County Cemetery rehabilitation project. Haren has kept the idea of serving the community in a big way alive when he picked up the ceremony pit project.

Haren, a Mohawk High School sophomore and member of Boy Scout Troop 444, started the project Oct. 6 and hopes to have it done by the end of the month. He said the project was something the troop already had intended to do.

“The idea was passed down from a scout who just turned 18,” he said. “It was an idea we tossed around, and since he was 18, he couldn’t do it.”

He said he got interested in working on the project because the community did not have a proper flag burning pit.

“There’s really nothing like this in the local area,” he said. “They’re currently retiring flags in a rusty old steel drum. This is a much more proper way than using that.”

Haren said the AMVETS was the first location he visited for the location of the pit.

“There’s nothing like this in the area to do this,” he said. “It’s better than what they have.”

Haren said he went through several designs before choosing the pit’s appearance.

“I just looked up designs on the Internet for fireplaces and found a brick design that we liked,” he said.

He also had help drawing up the plans from electrical engineer Steve Longanbach.

He said that he changed the plan again after looking at the area he had to work with.

“The original pad was going to be 14 by 16 (feet), but once we physically measured it out to see how big it was, we noticed it wasn’t going to be big enough,” he said.

They then expanded it to its current size of 20 by 20 feet.

Haren said it took a day to dig out the pit, put the metal forms in and place the stone beneath the pit. At this point, the cement has been poured and volunteers are completing the three feet high brick wall in the back of the pit.

He also said they built in a tap for gas and a drainage system.

In addition to the cement pit, Haren plans to line the fire pit with bushes and solar lights.

“I hope that people become more aware of how to properly retire a flag and not just throw it away or burn it in your backyard,” he said. “There’s actually a way to do it.”

Haren explained that there is a process that the Boy Scouts must complete to honor the flag when it is retired, and he intends on leading the first flag retirement ceremony at the AMVETS when the pit is completed.

The ceremony is to be scheduled upon completion of the project.

Haren collected about $3,500 in donations through letters and speaking to organizations such as the Fire Fighters Union and the Volunteer Fire Department.

He said many volunteers have helped complete the project, including his grandparents, Mary and Tony Steinhauser, Brad Borer, Gary Amlin, Mike Steyer and his parents.

He said the project helped him work on his public speaking. He also thought it helped him learn about time management and financing.

“Make sure exactly how much you need before fundraising,” he said. “Practice speaking in front of people you don’t know and be prepared to answer any questions they’ll ask you.”

Haren also hoped to show other Boy Scouts that the Eagle Scout project was not hard to complete.

“Scout projects aren’t overwhelming,” he said.