A nameplate was carved into the base of the bridge to ensure Hay's contribution is not forgotten.
COVINGTON - Thirteen-year-old Sam B. Hay IV loves the outdoors, so when it came time to choose the service project required to earn his Eagle Scout rank, he decided he wanted to combine his love of nature with his construction skills.
After learning about Chimney Park, a passive play area behind Newton County Library, Hay knew he'd found the right location. Chimney Park is still in the planning stages as members of a non-profit board continue fundraising, but the area is open to the community several times a year for special events, such as the recent Twilights at Chimney Park.
The fact that the park is planned to be universally accessible regardless of physical abilities appealed to Hay. He contacted Barbara Morgan, chair of Friends of Newton Parks, and heard several ideas for projects. Ultimately, he decided to construct a bridge connecting the front and rear portions of the property.
When wet, the ground under the bridge, "is a mud bog. We've watched a dump truck get stuck," Hay said. Now visitors to the park won't have to worry about getting their feet muddy.
In keeping with Boy Scout requirements, Hay was responsible for every aspect of the project, from designing the bridge to raising funds to purchase the lumber, to organizing a team of volunteers to help. He even had to go before the Friends of Newton Board and present his project for approval.
"It was more challenging than I realized," Hay said, noting it took a month and a half just to plan and design the bridge and two months to build.
All told, it took 22 volunteers working a total of 280 hours to complete the project. They finished Thanksgiving week, just in time for the Twilights event. The bridge is now decorated with a large wreath and Christmas lights. The park is lit every Thursday night in December for visitors to enjoy.
Having completed the other requirements for Eagle Scout status, Hay, a member of Boy Scout Troop 222, has turned in the necessary paperwork to the Atlanta Area Council and is awaiting board review. He will have to go before the council's board and present details on the project. He'll likely know whether he made Eagle Scout after the holidays.
Whatever the board decides, Hay's efforts will have a lasting impact on the Chimney Park project.
"The Board of Friends of Newton Parks was thrilled to have Sam select Chimney Park as the site for his Eagle Scout project," Morgan said. "The bridge he designed and built is a creative new element for the imaginative play-scape that is developing there. We predict people will want to get married on that bridge! We are so proud of Sam and grateful for his gift to the park."