NEW PALESTINE — Cory Sitler has worked hard over the past several years trying to earn his Eagle Scout badge.
This week, he took a giant leap toward getting it when he installed a new welcome sign for New Palestine on the west end of town.
Cory, a member of Boy Scout Troop 244, worked with his father and a few other Scouts to accomplish his goal of erecting the sign facing eastbound traffic near the intersection of CR 700W and U.S. 52.
“This has been two years in the making,” Cory said.
Standing near the sign he installed at the edge of Sugar Creek Township Park along U.S. 52, Cory said he was glad to finally see his project come together.
He began working toward earning his Eagle Scout badge during his sophomore year at New Palestine High School, and now after just starting his senior year, the job is nearly completed.
“This project has taken up the majority of my summer,” Cory said. “The truth of it is this was my summer.”
Creating the sign was a lot of hard work, he said.
“You’ve got to go through all the permit process and work with other people,” Cory said. “I had to hook up with a new designer because my design was a little bit too expensive and out of budget.”
With the help of the New Palestine community and his fellow Scouts, Cory raised nearly $3,000 for the project.
In the two-year process, he said he learned much more than fundraising skills.
“It’s a very, very humbling experience,” he said. “You have to have patience … a lot of patience.”
He said his biggest hurdle was learning how government works as he tried to track down the permits he needed to complete the project.
“It took me forever to figure all of that out,” he said. “In the end, I simply needed a signed building permit from the county.”
He came up with the idea to add a new town sign when fellow United Methodist Church member Roger Holder talked with him about the possibility of building one.
He then worked with former New Palestine Chamber of Commerce President Gary Halliburton to get the ball rolling.
Halliburton accompanied Cory to a Sugar Creek Township meeting, where they petitioned officials to allow him to build the sign on park property.
“I’m very pleased with how the sign looks,” Halliburton said. “It really looks very good, and we’re proud of what Cory has done.”
Cory joined the Scouts when he was in the first grade and wanted to complete an Eagle Scout project by August, prior to his 18th birthday in early September.
His father, Joe Sitler, said it’s been rewarding watching his son mature through the project.
“What I’m most proud of is time and again I’ve had people come to me telling me what a great job he had done in presenting his proposal,” Joe Sitler said. “Better than three-fourths of the money he raised has been requesting contributions from not-for-profit organizations.”
While the sign currently has a only a “Welcome to New Palestine” message, Cory said he’ll be adding five emblems on the sign in coming weeks to help represent the town. He built the sign with a blank surface to accommodate additional pieces.
“We’re planning on getting our Troop 244 logo on there hopefully to promote our troop,” Cory said. “We are going to have the American Legion and the Sugar Creek Township logos added, too.”
Cory said it’s nice to know his Scout project will be standing and promoting his hometown for the next 30 years.
“It gives me a sense of pride,” he said. “But, I can’t let it get to my head. There is always going to be another challenge.”
While Cory worked hard to get the project completed, the town is still in need of adding the same type of sign on the other end of town.
“Maybe another Scout can tackle that project for their Eagle Scout badge,” his father said.