By SAMANTHA MCDONNELL
OBSERVER Staff Writer
SHERIDAN - A local Boy Scout is doing his part to honor firefighters in the community who have passed away.
Eagle Scout Thomas Howlett Jr. dedicated a bench at the Sheridan Fire Hall to honor the late Jeff Roberts and Ron Keddie. Picture, from left, front row: Katie Roberts holding daughter, Alexis; Kathie Keddie holding Berkeley Roberts; and Mike Keddie holding daughter, Kaylynn. Back row, Nick Coggins and Howlett.
Thomas Howlett Jr., a junior at Silver Creek Central School, honored late members of the Sheridan Fire Department as his Eagle Scout project. Howlett wanted to honor former Fire Chief Jeff Roberts who passed away in December 2011 for his project and decided to dedicate a bench to him. Howlett went to the fire department with the idea.
"My family members knew him ... figured I would do something for (the Roberts family)," Howlett said.
Howlett approached Ron Keddie of the department with the project. Unfortunately, Keddie passed away in June while working with Howlett on the project. It was at that point Howlett decided to incorporate Keddie into the bench as well.
"He got in contact with my dad (Ron) and ... and halfway through (the project) he added my dad in on the project," First Assistant Chief Mike Keddie said.
Mike, who is Ron's son, said the bench was a "nice dedication."
"We're honored that he came to us about it. It was a very nice project," he said.
The bench was built by Howlett with help from his fellow Boy Scouts. He is a member of Troop 252 of Silver Creek. Chair of Board of Fire Commissioners James Crowell said the department really appreciates the project.
"We have it in honor of our two well respected and well loved firefighters that left us before their time," he said. "It will be a lasting tribute to the guys that did so much."
James Crowell, Board of Fire Commissioners Chair, said the project was "very well done" and much appreciated by the fire department as well as the community.
"(The bench) appears to be very well done and will be very appreciated by the fire district and the town of the Sheridan," Crowell said.
The bench which sits outside the main door to the fire hall located on Route 20, has a plaque for the dedication to both men. Next to the bench is the Fireman's Prayer. The fire department has also planted trees in the front of the department to honor both men.
Howlett joins a select group of Boy Scouts who actually achieve the Eagle Scout rank. To achieve Eagle Scout ranking, young men must exhibit leadership within their troop and character, in addition to a service project. "Being an Eagle Scout is a true accomplishment for a young teenager," Crowell said. "To achieve Eagle Scout status means (Howlett) has stepped up to make that accomplishment."
Crowell said he was happy to see the Eagle Scout achievement in the local community and hopes more young men will continue to achieve the rank.
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