He could have built birdhouses.
But Dale Krum picked the toughest of three jobs suggested by officials at Old Bedford School.
The Boy Scout Eagle candidate considered projects that included sanding wooden stairs on one side of the historical edifice, crafting birdhouses for the back yard or replacing the split rail fence in front of the treasured brick building, which faces Bedford Road.
Folks who recently drove past the site at 2400 School Road might have noticed a sea of red-shirted bodies tearing down and rebuilding 110 feet of that fence. Krum led 10 of the 20 boys in Troop 387 — and a half-dozen of their parents — in an Eagle Scout service project that turned into an almost herculean task.
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“We had trouble with the auger,” said the 17-year-old Eagle candidate.
Early on it became obvious that the small, gas-powered machine the troop brought to the site wasn’t up to the task of punching through hard-packed red dirt and sandstone.
“It just sort of floated on top,” said Randy Krum, the boy’s father.
An arduous attempt to penetrate the strata with a massive wrecking bar and a posthole digger took its toll on the scouts and dads. Then Mary Kaye Krum and her son brought in the most powerful auger they could rent. Taking turns, the dads made short work of the rest of the holes, into which the scouts shoved about 18 cedar posts provided by Auto Lawn Irrigation & Fencing.
The posts were set with about 700 pounds of concrete. The troop fitted 330 feet of split rails between the posts and covered everything with 5 gallons of stain and sealer, all of which also came from Auto Lawn. In all, the company donated $1,758 worth of materials — after $400 raised by the scouts and $1,000 that city of Bedford pitched in — said Auto Lawn owner Christopher Gibson.
That doesn’t include having a fence expert, Scott Lepak, on hand as an adviser and on the clock as an Auto Lawn employee.
‘It just touched my heart’
If Auto Lawn had done the job, it would have cost the city $5,500, Gibson said. Helping the scouts was the right thing to do, he added.
“It just touched my heart when Dale came to me about this project,” said Gibson, himself an Eagle Scout. “This was a chance to do something to give back.”
And the city is grateful, said Natalie Foster, city spokeswoman.
“It just really helped the aesthetics of Old Bedford School for us,” Foster said. “The fence was weather-beaten, had cracks. Brides who have their weddings there like to take photos near it, and it’s going to look better for everybody who drives by.”
Bedford special-events manager Wendy Hartnett, who oversees Old Bedford School, said the fence might have been removed rather than replaced had Troop 387 not stepped up. That would have been a sad thing.
The fence “doesn’t have an actual function; it just contributes to the beauty of the school,” Hartnett said. “It’s a very historic area, with a tree where students carved their initials in the rocks under it, and an old windmill.”
Troop 387 has a long-standing mutually supportive relationship with Bedford, Hartnett said.
“Dale’s troop also has worked the blues festival, helping with parking, and the city has donated money to the troop for every hour they work,” she said. Other scout groups the city works with are Troops 332 and 757 and Pack 757, she said.
In the last year or so, Krum and his buddies have performed five Eagle Scout service projects benefiting organizations in Bedford, said Holly Norgaard, whose experience with Troop 387 began as den mother when the oldest of them were Tiger Cubs.
Last year, the troop had the second- or third-highest number of Eagle candidates in Roadrunner District of the Longhorn Council, Norgaard said. “The most remarkable thing is their persistence. We have five boys still in this troop from the original den. That speaks well of their commitment to the program and to one another.”
Rank is a hard-won achievement
Commitment is the word that best describes his son, said Randy Krum. It’s an essential character trait for any Eagle candidate.
To even be considered, a scout must earn 21 merit badges through such activities as camping, canoeing, archery, climbing and rifle shooting, according to scouting.org. The service project is the final hurdle. It involves taking responsibility for every phase from planning the project to explaining it in front of a board of Boy Scouts of America officials to coordinating it to leading fellow scouts in its accomplishment.
But, once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout, even though the rank typically is quickly followed by “aging out” of the program when scouts turn 18. Since 1912, when Arthur Eldred was the first to do it, attaining Eagle Scout has been a milestone that men have treasured the rest of their lives.
For Dale Krum, the rank is worth the effort.
“It will show that I can be a leader and get things done,” he said. “I’ve had difficulty being a leader, and this is getting me past that.”
Hartnett said there still are opportunities at Old Bedford School and elsewhere in Bedford for scouts who want to follow in Krum’s footsteps.
“The birdhouses, for sure, are on their way out; they’re done,” Hartnett said.