By Karen Cornelius
Scout Troop #214 member Zachary Redmon is on his way to fulfilling his goal to be an Eagle Scout. Part of the process is to create an Eagle Scout project to inspire and share with others. Redmon, 15, has just completed his project and it’s a quiet, relaxing spot located in the front of Sailorway Middle School near the front entrance flag pole. It’s a lovely reading garden with benches, an inviting stone pathway, plants, and a bubbling water fountain.
An Eagle Scout project by its intension is a massive undertaking which requires planning, design, research, approvals, gathering materials, and finding some donors to help. Redmon said the prelimary planning started last year by brainstorming just what he could do that would have some value and meaning. He toyed with the idea of a library where you can take a book and return a book, but then he thought of his late grandmother, Maxine Schmitz, an avid reader who use to volunteer and read to children at the Vermilion Local Schools and was a mother herself of nine children. He decided to make a reading garden for students, teachers, and the community to enjoy and dedicate it to his grandmother who passed away in 2016 after her 100th birthday. “I saw this as a way to let my grandmother’s service to the community live on even after her passing,” said Redmon. Schmitz was at one time well known in Vermilion as a volunteer with many causes including baking goodies for the nursing homes and working at the former Schwensen’s Bakery.
“I wanted it to be a place to relax, a quiet place,” said the scout. The actual project took shape between mid-June of this year and mid-August. Front and center is a lovely stone with an engraving “Maxine Schmitz Reading Garden” and a quote by M. Fuller under it stating that “Today, a reader, tomorrow a leader.” Redmon recalled that his grandmother’s favorite book to read was The Bible and then just about everything else she could absorb. He thought there was some interest from the Sailorway librarian to bring students there to visit and he hoped students and teachers might want to stop before and after school, and the community could come when they were on the campus to enjoy it.
“When most people hear about an Eagle Scout project they just come forward and contribute, and many were very generous in helping me,” said Redmon. The stone in front of the garden was donated by Cleveland Quarries and the engraving on the stone by Ramsier’s, Inc. A lady in Toledo, Tammy Martin, donated all the bricks to line the landscaping when Redmon’s mother, Kristina Mason, drove there to pick them up and offer to pay. Redmon said his biggest contributor was Chris Trimble of Wakeman who was closing his landscaping business and gave the scout small stones, sand, mulch, potting soil, and several plants. “He helped me design the garden and his knowledge of plants was very valuable.” Redmon said that the plants chosen were from the local area, easy to maintain, and attracted butterflies. Redmon also contributed some of the landscaping plants. The fountain was a real planning chore to finish. Redmon went to his dad, Allen Redmon, in Medina for help as he is an electrician. His dad converted the fountain to solar power and he installed a water sensor so the motor would not burn out. It turned out to be real highlight.
There are three benches surrounding the garden with one dedicated to the Vermilion Local Schools, one dedicated to the scout’s family, and one dedicated to all the people who supported Redmon and the project. He is very happy the project is completed. “It was a big undertaking.” He stated that it took a good one and one-half months to do the research and go to the schools, city boards, his troop, Scout Council, and more for approval to start. All the way through he was supported by his mom and stepdad, Andrew Mason, in Vermilion. His scout master Don Vartorella and assistant masters Randy Coover and Scott Bruns gave him a lot of encouragement as well.
Redmon is a now a sophomore at EHOVE in their STEM Program and hopes to join EHOVE’S Robotics Team. He is a member of the Vermilion High School Marching Band and plays the trombone. Over the summer he worked at the Firelands Boy Scout Camp. He will continue participating in his scout troop and finishing the other steps to be awarded the prestigious Eagle Scout Award. While he’s only 15, he has set some other ambitious goals for himself. After graduation, he plans to join the U.S. Air Force and be a mechanic so he can learn all the in’s and out’s of airplanes. He wants to attend college and would like to be an aerospace engineer one day.