Sibling rivalry saves city thousands

Blayne Elder with Keizer Mayor Cathy Clark. Elder completely rehabilitated a gazebo in Chalmers Jones Park as his Eagle Scout project (Submitted).

Blayne Elder had wanted to be an Eagle Scout since he was eight years old.

“It’s the final rank of scouting and the ultimate achievement. It looks great on a resume and shows you put forth the effort and work,” Elder said.

One of the prerequisites for achieving Eagle Scout status is to perform a service project for the benefit of the community.

Since both of his older brothers were Eagle Scouts, Elder, a freshman at McNary High, wanted to make sure that his service project went above and beyond what his brothers did.

“My main motivation was to beat my older brothers. It was to go big or go home,” Elder said.

Most Eagle Scout service projects are done over the course of a weekend. However, Elder decided to tackle a much bigger project — cleaning and painting the gazebo next to Keizer City Hall.

With the help of members of Troop 20 and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder was able to finish the project in two months.

“I knew it would be benefitting to the community if I did it. It ended up looking so great,” Elder said.

Robert Johnson has been the parks and facilities manager for the City of Keizer for 13 years and said he has never seen a scout take on this big of a project for the city.

“I wanted to make sure he knew the size of the project he was about to take on. There’s a lot of surface area that is not easy to get to. It’s a multi-step process with a lot of details,” Johnson said.

Elder brought his proposal for the project before the parks board on Aug. 13. It was estimated that the Elder would save the city more than $9,000 in labor costs, which is why it was an easy decision for the parks board to give their stamp of approval.

“It was a no-brainer decision.The labor was a big saver for the city,” Johnson said.

The Keizer parks department paid $650 for Elder’s supplies through the parks matching grant.

Elder received paint discounts from the Sherman-Willams paint store in Keizer, as well as Rodda Paint in Salem. He also received free supplies from Herc Rentals in Keizer.

After Elder and his crew began sanding and pressure-washing the gazebo, they were forced to take a two-week hiatus due to the wildfires damaging the air-quality across the state. When Elder was able to return to work, he applied a rust-killing chemical to the facility, then began priming and masking the gazebo before painting.

Manuel Jauregui, a local painter, offered guidance and assistance to Elder free of charge.

After approximately 415 man hours, the project was completed in late-October.

“I’m so thankful for everyone who helped me out,” Elder said.“It was a huge relief once we were finished. I learned that a project of this capacity takes a lot of planning and organization.”