During the summer of 2017, there was a need for a shady area for parents to watch their children on the playground at First United Methodist Church of Morristown.
Tanner Keck, a senior at Grainger High School in Rutledge, is a member of Boy Scout Troop 91. He decided to try to bring the project to fruition as part of his Eagle Scout project. Eagle Scout is the highest rank a scout can obtain.
There were quite a bit of donations from the church and its members to make the project a reality.
“The Crusaders Sunday School Class donated money because there was funding held for two individuals, most of the Crusaders wanted to use the money to put toward the project in the individuals’ memories,” Keck said.
“The project was one of the requirements needed to obtain the Eagle Scout rank,” Keck said. “I had to complete a service project that benefitted the community. I’ve been coming to this church for quite some time.”
The son of Thomas and Barbie Keck remembers that he came to “Parents’ Day Out” at the church when he was younger. He joined the cub scouts when he was in kindergarten.
“I’ve been here helping them out with the Boy Scout troop, since it is funded by First United Methodist Church,” he said. “After some time, I started noticing that there were people wanting to get out of the sun and heat while watching their kids on the playground. I thought it would be a great idea if they had a picnic shelter or pavilion there. So, I thought, let’s make that happen.”
Keck had been told that some church members had wanted to do a similar project outside, a place where classes or services could be held outside.
“I figured if they were wanting to do something like that, they would want something that would be convenient for them,” Keck said. “I figured a pavilion would be a good thing to use.”
Keck has been a member of the scouts for 10 years. He earned the Arrow of Light as a Cub Scout and joined the Boy Scout troop in sixth grade.
Scoutmaster Larry Swinson of Troop 91 discussed the extra work required for this project to be completed.
“Tanner had to put a book together detailing his project,” Swinson said. “The difficulty of this project was unlike many of them, he had certain permits that he had to get. Some others don’t have to get permits. He also had to match criteria that the church required, had to have the pavilion match the church exterior, the roofline and shingles had to match. Then there’s the safety factor, it’s a shelter at a playground. The aesthetics had to match the church. There was a lot of extra work that he had to do that most projects didn’t have to do.
“The size of his research and his book is double of what other boys have to do. This was one of the highest dollar value projects that has been done through our troop. They do solicit some donations, not just money, but also building materials. They break the book down into what they have to spend money on and what they have valued of donations.
The total amount of man hours in the project were 703.5.
“Some professionals involved with scouting, as well as other scouts helped out,” Keck said.
The project took longer than anticipated due to the heavy rains in February and cold of the winter months.
“We started work in winter, but we had to deal with delays with rain, snow and sleet and ice,” he said. “There had been times where our materials were frozen because of the low temperatures. There were other times where our equipment would get stuck when the weather was wet. We went a month without being able to work. That it made it hard.”
Vandalism took place when the concrete for the pavilion was poured.
“Some individuals came and drew profanities on the concrete,” Keck said. “It was a big disgrace. We told the church and reported it to the police. Because there was a security camera on the corner, it caught the persons. They sent a police officer over to the house and warned them about what would happen if they did this again. They would face extreme punishment. In the end, we conquered it.”
The picnic tables located under the shelter were built by another member of the church.
In addition to his senior classes at Grainger, where he sports a 3.5 grade point average, he enjoys group activities, including an engineering and computer drafting program. Keck did an internship with the Tennessee Valley Authority to be a drafter. Keck also works part-time at Clinchview Golf Course in Bean Station to earn money for college.
He is a dual-enrollment student at Walters State Community College. Keck is planning to attend college for either construction management or civil engineering.
“The project kind of inspired my career choice,” he said. “I plan to go to Walters State for two years, then transfer to a four-year university.”
Tanner’s preferences are among UT-Knoxville, UT-Chattanooga, Tennessee Tech and East Tennessee State.
Tanner will receive his Eagle Scout Award at a Court of Honor in February.