Eagle Scout’s project goes to bat for parishioners at Wadsworth church
By Long Hwa-shu Special to The News-Sun January 13, 2013 2:46PM
JJ Henning, 12 (left), helps out Dan Gagnon's (right) Bat House Eagle Scout project by nailing in a slab of shingle onto the actual bat house, at St. Pat's Church in Wadsworth. | Mark Ukena~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 15, 2013 6:18AM
Parishioners at St. Patrick’s Church in Wadsworth won’t be bothered with buzzing and biting mosquitoes this summer, thanks to 17-year-old Dan Gagnon.
Dan, a senior at Warren High School who lives in Gurnee, has made building and installing five bat houses on the church grounds near the Des Plaines River his Eagle Scout service project.
“I’ve been a scout since I was in the first grade when I was a Tiger scout,” said Dan, wearing shorts, a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt topped with a cap Saturday as he, helped by his father, fellow scouts and friends, put up the bat houses on tall poles.
“I want to make it to the top 4 percent of the scouts. They are Eagles and I’d like to be one of them. It’s an honor. People will look up to you and it’s great on the resume too,” he explained.
It the project is approved by the Scout Board of Review, he will receive a patch and medal, and then celebrate. Not only did he have to complete the project, but he also had to demonstrate his leadership in executing it. Dan is confident that he will soar.
With the help and guidance of his father, Ronald Gagnon, who is scoutmaster of Troop 675 of which Dan has been a member for seven years, Dan built the 26- by 25-inch bat houses himself. They were made of plywood and pine, and were painted black. The hard part was to dig down the ground several feet to bury the poles in concrete.
As a student of the advanced wood processes class at Warren, he has worked at the school’s wood workshop. That experience, he said, came in handy.
Helping defray the cost of the project were the Knights of Columbus, which donated $400; and Preferred Pump of Fond du Lac, Wis, which gave him five metal poles, each 21 feet long.
Among those helping to erect the poles with the bat houses on top were Dave Kublank of Lindenhurst who is the assistant scoutmaster of Troop 675, and Zach Ammons, 13, of Beach Park, a Star scout.
“Dan is my buddy and a fellow scout,” said Zach.
“My wife, Linda, and I are proud of what Dan is doing. He’s following the footstep of his brother, Matthew, 23, who also became an Eagle scout,” said his father, a retired Navy chief petty officer who owns Aqua-Pure Water Conditioning Inc. in Zion.
Pointing out that his son’s project will benefit the church, the father said because the church campus’s proximity to the Des Plaines River, it is inundated with mosquitoes during spring, summer and fall.
“Attracting bats is a desirable thing to do,” said the father.
The bat houses, strategically located, will attract bats which will devour mosquitoes in gusto. Each house can accommodate as many as 40 bats.
With bat houses in place, churchgoers can certainly look forward to days with no or less aggravations of swarming mosquitoes, itches and sickness, associated with mosquito bites.