AYER — Intent on honoring the memory of his grandfather as well as all other veterans in town who have served the nation in uniform, a young Shirley resident has received permission to enhance the town’s Veterans Memorial Garden alongside Town Hall on the corner of Columbia and Main streets.
“The Veterans Memorial Garden is in pretty good condition,” said 17-year-old Jordan Rodriguez. “It’s very well kept and well maintained, but there’s really no place to sit and view the veterans’ names so that’s what I’m planning to do; to put benches in so that people can sit and look at the names on the veterans memorial. There are wooden benches on the outside edge of the park but I wanted benches on the inside right next to the veterans memorial names. The benches that are there now really just face each other.”
Rodriguez, a member of Boy Scout Troop 3, chose the project to fulfill the requirements needed to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank that can be achieved by a Scout.
“I had thought of several other things to do for my Eagle Scout project but mainly, I wanted to do something to support the veterans,” explained Rodriguez.
The two benches Rodriguez plans to install will be of granite with a separate post with a sign affixed stating that their addition to the garden was part of an Eagle Scout project.
“The project has already been approved by the town,” said Rodriguez. “Also by the Nashoba Valley Council which oversees Eagle Scout projects. I had a lot of support from town Selectman James Fay. He actually sped up the process by gathering a lot of support from other selectmen. He knew my grandfather very well.”
If all goes according to plan, Rodriguez intends to install the benches at the park with labor supplied by fellow Scouts. To secure the benches to the ground, the Scouts will need to dig a number of holes where the legs of the benches are to be placed and secured with concrete.
“The Veterans Memorial Garden is a place where people can sit in a quiet peaceful place to reflect and think about their loved ones who contributed and sacrificed for our country’s freedoms,” concluded Rodriguez. “My grandfather Manuel Velez was the longest standing veterans agent in town and was committed to the veteran’s that he helped. He would be proud that I have chosen this project. He spent many hours in his office at the town hall and would take full advantage of sitting at the bench to admire the veteran’s memorial.”
Rodriguez, a senior at Lawrence Academy in Groton, said that the benches will be purchased out of town from the Swenson Granite Co. at a cost of $1,000.
The cost, in fact, has so far proved more of a problem than drawing up design plans or getting permission from the town to install the benches.
“I want to start on the project as soon as possible but I still need to raise more funding,” said Rodriguez. “I’ve sent letters out asking for donations and so far have gotten a lot of support from local residents and local businesses. I’ve raised about $500 in donations already but I still need that extra $500 so I’m planning to hold a car wash in the village plaza in Shirley on Aug. 27.”
The car wash will be heldfrom 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Those wishing to make a donation to the Eagle Scout project can send a check to Jordan Rodriguez, 35 Lawton Road, Shirley, MA 01464.
“I hope to complete the project before November because to achieve the Eagle Scout rating I have to do it before I turn 18,” Rodriguez said. “And my birthday is on Nov. 6.”