Ocean City Boy Scout Overcomes Challenges for his Community Project

first_imgKaren Mahar, director of the Ocean City Free Public Library, and Boy Scout Andrew Leonetti show off the new coat rack. By Donald WittkowskiHe had to redesign it, cope with some warped wood, strenuously sand it down to make it level and then deal with some bolts that wouldn’t fit properly in the holes.The Boy Scouts of America’s motto is “Be Prepared,” but for Andrew Leonetti, his project to become an Eagle Scout taught him to “Be Prepared … for the worst.”But, ultimately, the 16-year-old sophomore at Ocean City High School conquered the challenges of building a large coat rack that he donated to the Ocean City Free Public Library during a ceremony Monday attended by his beaming family.In a way, the project was a testament to what the Boy Scouts are all about – adapting, overcoming adversity and accomplishing what they set out to do.“That’s exactly what it’s about,” Leonetti said.Leonetti’s grandparents, Jim and Ursula Russo, of Ocean City, said they were not surprised that Andrew devoted so much time and care toward building something that would benefit the community.“They are a very close-knit family. I think that’s what makes him a very special young man,” Ursula Russo said.Andrew was joined at the ceremony by his grandparents, Jim and Ursula Russo, and his father, Paul.Leonetti’s parents and grandparents often go to the library. However, prior to Monday, there was nowhere for them and other library patrons to hang their coats.Karen Mahar, the library director, noted that Leonetti approached her about six months ago with the idea of building a coat rack to fulfill the requirements of his community-oriented project to become an Eagle Scout at Boy Scout Troop 32 in Ocean City.“I said, ‘Go for it. I’d love to see it,’” Mahar recalled of their conversation.The inspiration for the project didn’t come to Leonetti when he was at the library. Rather, it was during a trip to the barber shop that he noticed a nice coat rack there and thought to himself about the library, “They might need a coat rack. I could make that.”Andrew places the coat rack in a cubbyhole along the hallway at the library’s 17th Street entrance.He spent six months planning the project and took another two months to build it. Along the way, there were setbacks. Initially, he was delayed about two weeks when he had to redesign it. Warped wood, a laborious sanding job to level it out and getting the bolts to align perfectly in the holes were other difficulties. But he persevered.“If I like something, I’m going to get it done,” he said. “I’m very determined to get things done.”Ten of his fellow Boy Scouts pitched in on Dec. 30 to help him with the final sanding work, he said. Standing 61 inches tall and 60 inches wide, the coat rack features glossy, lacquered wood, metal piping to give it its height and rollers to make it portable.“It’s awesome,” Mahar said. “It’s sturdy, and portable for where we need it.”For now, it will occupy a cubbyhole along the hallway at the library’s 17th Street entrance. A small, ornamental plaque at the base of the coat rack lets the public know it was donated by Andrew Leonetti.Andrew’s father, Paul Leonetti, who serves as assistant Scout master at Troop 32, estimated that the project cost about $300 “from soup to nuts.” The family ordered attractive wood hangers from Amazon for the final touch.Tom Weber, a neighbor who lives across the street from the Leonetti family on Bayland Drive, had the honor of being the first one at the library to hang his coat on the rack.“He’s a fine young man,” Weber said of Andrew. “They’re a fine family.”Tom Weber, a neighbor of the Leonetti family, has the honor of being the first one to hang his coat on the rack.In addition to being a Boy Scout, Leonetti plays drums in the high school’s marching band and also rows crew. During the summer, he plays drums with his personal band Carolina Ford up on the Boardwalk.Twice within the past year, Leonetti and his Carolina Ford bandmate Ricky Hardin, who is also a sophomore at Ocean City High School, have appeared at City Council meetings to urge Mayor Jay Gillian to scrap his proposed ordinance to regulate Boardwalk entertainers.They have argued that the proposed licensing fees for entertainers would cause financial hardship for them and other young Boardwalk performers trying to make some money during the summer. Based on their comments, the mayor pulled the ordinance in March 2016, but he has promised a new version that would be ready by this summer season.Andrew Leonetti noted that he is one of the Boardwalk performers the city has been consulting with as it prepares to unveil a new ordinance. As he did with the coat rack, he is promising to give the ordinance a great deal of his attention.last_img read more