A Pair Of Eagles

By DIANA PADDOCK

dpaddock@timesobserver.com

Grant Gens had the opportunity this summer to work with a lot of different people on his Eagle Scout project – building a cover for the back entrance to Praise Fellowship in Russell – but it was pretty special that he got to meet someone who earned his Eagle Scout Award nearly 80 years ago.

The Rev. Bill Schnieder, 92, was part of the support system for Grant’s project. Schnieder has been an Eagle Scout since 1938.

Schnieder earned 21 merit badges to receive his Eagle Scout Award.

“My good friend was my senior patrol leader,” Schnieder explained, “and he kept naggin’ me and naggin’ me to get done before I graduated from high school.”

And so he did, earning the prestigious honor shortly before he graduated in January of 1939 from Scranton Central High School.

Schnieder said his Eagle Scout Award and the work that went into earning it have served him well over the years. He learned canoeing, fire building, first aid, cooking, and “a bunch of things which came in handy down through the years,” he explained. “I’m grateful I learned those things.”

Schnieder offered input on the building of the canopy at the rear entrance of Praise Fellowship Church where he is pastor emeritus.

“The rear entrance had a large porch and picnic tables but was never covered,” Schnieder explained. “It was kind of a hassle getting from the the car across that open space into the church. The cover will protect it from the weather.”

Although Schnieder couldn’t help with the construction, he did support the effort with prayer and “being there,” he said, “encouraging them and thanking them.”

“Pastor Bill is a remarkable man who has lived a life full of adventure,” said Praise Fellowship Pastor Rick Rohlin. “It’s been a privilege to learn from him.”

Grant, who is 16, can’t compete with Rev. Schnieder’s longevity at Scouting, but he’s got a good head start.

He has been in Scouting since he was 6 years old.

And, even though Schnieder is a bit beyond working in construction because of his age, he did pray for the project and told Grant to keep working hard and keep up the good work.

The idea for the project came from a conversation with Pastor Rohlin and his father, Terry Rohlin, who manages the church facilities. The church has two entrances but neither had any protection from rain or snow. It was a need that the church has recognized for a while but has never gotten to.

The project started this past winter with requesting approval from the Scout office. During the spring, Grant met with experienced builders from the church to prepare a design that could be approved by the church. Last month, his friends helped produce a fundraising video that was shown at church.

The actual construction process took three days to complete, and workers are taking a few days off before resuming the finishing work and roof.

There have been numerous people involved along the way, Grant said.

Brian Whittaker worked with Grant on the project design and construction sequence and offered some insight into the permitting process. The construction crew consisted of Rick, Terry and Zach Rohlin; Brad Stanton; Kurt, Luke and Graham Kondak; Dan Larson; Bill Cechetti; and Drake Gens. Dan Glotz provided advice with the local permitting process, and the staff at Planning and Zoning and the building permit office were very helpful in guiding him along the process, he said.

The fundraising video was recorded and produced by Erin Kondak, with the actors including Grant’s friends (Luke, Graham and Grace Kondak, Drake and Abby Gens, AJ Brown, Trevor, Alyssa and McKenna Phelps, Jeremy Grimm). Donna Phelps and Denise Gens provided meals during construction days.

Pastor Rick and Mr. Terry were very helpful in showing Grant and the other young men how to properly use the various power tools used during the construction of the entryway and how to build things, Grant added. They ended up using those skills to cut the various boards to construct the trusses on location.

“We are very fortunate to have a multi-generational church, and this project demonstrates that,” said Rohlin. “Half the crew doing the work are retired guys and the other half are high school kids. God really pours out His blessings when generations love each other and work together.”

Grant really enjoys Scouting, especially the outings in which he has had the opportunity to participate. He has attended summer camp at Camp Olmsted the past three summers, summer camps in Texas and Colorado, and even attended the National Jamboree last summer at the Bechtel Reserve in WVa.

Grant’s trips have allowed him to try lots of activities, but his favorites are the shooting sports, overnight canoeing and campout on the Allegheny River, water skiing, rock climbing and flying a plane last year for his aviation merit badge.

Grant remembers fondly his former Troop 13 Scoutmaster, Dan Wolboldt.

“‘Mr. Dan’ welcomed me and my brother immediately into Troop 13 when we moved to Warren from Texas several years ago,” said Grant. “Dan was always willing to teach us some Scouting skill.”

Grant is the son of Edward and Denise Gens.

“Grant is a great young man. He is another quality representative of Boy Scouts of America,” Rohlin added.