Cemetery receives new life through Eagle Scout project

Late grandmother’s influence also honored by Scout

Eagle Scout cemetery

Bellefontaine High School and Ohio Hi- Point Career Center senior Kody Riley, second from the left, paints a sign at the Harrod Cemetery this spring alongside several friends during his Eagle Scout project to make improvements at the cemetery, located along the south side of Township Road 56 outside Huntsville. HOME PAGE SLIDE SHOW PHOTO: Riley is congratulated by his Boy Scouts of America Troop 182 leader Tom Irick during a Sept. 11 ceremony. (PHOTOS | SUSAN DEARTH)

When Bellefontaine area resident Kody Riley signed up for Tiger Scouts as a kindergartner at his grandmother’s prompting, he never realized how the program would impact his life in the years to come. 

Earlier this month, the now 18-year-old Ohio Hi-Point Career Center and Bellefontaine High School senior received his Eagle Scout award — the highest rank in Scouting — during a ceremony at the American Legion Post 173, 120 Colton Ave., in front of many friends and family members. While his grandmother, Evelyn Stayrook, passed away several years ago, he also felt her presence during that special day. 

“My grandmother motivated me a lot and helped sign me up for Tiger Scouts. Throughout the years, she paid for many of my camp-outs, too,” said the OHPCC welding and fabrication student. “I think she’d be very proud of me today. It took a lot of effort to earn my Eagle Scout, but I’m glad I stuck with it.”

During the ceremony, Kody was honored for the time that he poured into his Eagle Scout project, where he developed a plan to make improvements at the Harrod Cemetery near Huntsville. He then carried out those plans this spring with the help of fellow Boy Scouts of America Troop 182 members and several friends. 

The high school senior said he received inspiration for his project one day while passing by the cemetery, located on the south side of Township Road 56, one mile north of Township Road 57. He noticed that the cemetery sign was rusty and in need of a fresh coat of paint, and he also had the idea to install new flower beds at the site. 

He approached McArthur Township trustee Robert Ammons regarding his proposal for these improvements. The township provided the funds to pay for the mulch, flowers and paint that was required, and then Kody and his team provided the labor force this spring, with Ammons joining them as well. 

The group painted the cemetery’s entry sign white, and then added the flowers to beautify the space. 

“I felt like things came together really well and the trustees were pleased with our project. It’s nice to see it all spruced up now when I drive by,” said Kody, a son of Susan Dearth.  

“This was a worthwhile project to help make this location in our community a little nicer.”

Throughout Kody’s time in Boy Scouts he earned a total of 28 merit badges and served as patrol leader, quartermaster, historian and troop guide, Troop 182 reports. He completed a total of 76 hours of community service with his troop, and also recorded 66 nights of camping with troop members. 

In addition, he served as a Boy Scouts of America camp staff member for an entire summer in 2014, along with hiking more than 84 miles on foot and recording 30 miles of travel by canoe. 

Troop leaders said less than 1 out of 50 Boy Scouts in America achieve the Eagle Scout rank. To be considered by the board of review for this rank, the Scout must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges, serve in a troop leadership position for six months after achieving the rank of Life Scout, and also must plan and complete the community service project. 

After completing his high school studies, Kody said he is looking into possibly attending additional welding training or studying mechanical engineering.