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Mission accomplished for Starkville's Bryan


David Miller



STARKVILLE -- Jack Bryan''s quest to become an Eagle Scout and to help the tennis community is finally complete.  


Thirteen months ago, the longtime scout and tennis player envisioned replicating an existing pavilion at Starkville High School''s tennis courts as his Eagle Scout project.  


Then, he understood the difficulty of organizing a community service project that was at the mercy of who would donate materials and labor, and, most important, dealing with the weather.  


Bryan''s community service project, which he needed to complete to move up to Eagle Scout before he turns 18, was approved by his troop in August 2009 but had miles to go before being completed two weeks ago.  


Bryan spent more than a year gathering materials and organizing volunteers to help complete the project, one that was met with skepticism from fellow scouts and troop leaders.  


Entering the fall, the new pavilion, which is parallel to the first model, will provide a boost to area tennis. Starkville High uses the facility for home matches, but Starkville Tennis Association plays host to matches there throughout the year.  


The benefit for the community was seen last week when players escaped the heat and rested under the new pavilion, Jack''s mother Laura said. 


"It''s incredible," she said. "When we had Red, Hot, and Blue (the July 4 tennis celebration), we used both pavilions and people were asking plenty of questions and were excited about it." 


Jack is just relieved everything came together.  


"I was surprised by how much went into this," he said. "Thinking about the one over there and having all the work going into this one, I couldn''t comprehend all that went into it. It turned out to be bigger than I expected." 


Construction on the 20-foot x 30-foot structure started April 26 with material donations from Bell Building Supply, East Mississippi Lumber, Graham Roofing, and MMC.  


Four hundred and eight hours of work went into the project, with 175 of those coming from Vic and Carl Zitta, who helped with the framing and foundation.  


As construction on the pavilion continued, Bryan watched fellow scouts make greater progress in their projects as the rainy fall season delayed foundation work and stalled plans.  


"(Vic) thought we would have it complete in December, but weather was the biggest problem," Bryan said. "It was just too wet to lay a foundation, so we backed it up to this spring. There were times when there wasn''t any work to do for months. It would be in the back of my mind, and I wondered if it would end up happening." 


The skepticism he faced from the outset regenerated after months went by with little to no progress made. The 15-year-old was anxious yet patient because of the people who''d enlisted to help. He had $1,500 worth of checks from the tennis community, a foreman in Jeff Foster, and support from Starkville Parks and Recreation. No one could see the early morning hours he put in helping cut braces or keeping track of every detail in his project notebook.  


"A lot of people were just shocked because of the time it took," Jack said. "A lot of people were thinking it had just fallen apart. We got the shingles donated in August, and in late April I called (Graham Roofing), and he assumed I''d scrapped the project. All that feeling went away when we dug the first hole." 


A scout since first grade, Jack takes great pride in completing a project most scouts wouldn''t tackle. Most people make Eagle Scout when they''re 17 or 18, but Jack figures to reach that level at 15 when he meets with scout leaders in Columbus. He must complete a one-page Eagle Scout essay and send it to the central office in Texas, where it must be approved. Jack also must also get approval from the Starkville School District stating the structure meets its satisfaction, as the pavilion is on the Starkville High campus.  


"My scout master told me that most 14-year-olds don''t have the maturity to be an Eagle Scout," Jack said, "so I''m feeling pretty confident I''ll be approved. And it''s seldom they turn people down. 


"It''s just going to be a feeling of satisfaction knowing I''ve been able to gather people, supplies, and donations to build something that''s worth $7,200. I have the ability to handle that." 


In the fall, there will be a dedication ceremony to complete the final phase of Jack''s project.



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