A young Havreite has completed a project that will benefit him — and others — far more than the Eagle Scout badge he will receive from the Boy Scouts next month.
After nearly a year-and-a-half working on it, 18-year-old Scout Nadir Greytak, son of Gary and Diana Greytak, is inviting people to the dedication ceremony of Gracie’s Place, the park he has completely refurbished in North Havre.
He told the Hill County Commissioners this week he is inviting people who live near the park, the people who helped and just anybody who wants to come. Diana Greytak urged people to come to the park dedication, just east of the Havre Food Bank in North Havre, and to bring chairs if they want to sit — seating is limited there.
Nadir named the park, and is dedicating it to two of his cousins — Gracie Gibson, who died after a struggle with cancer, and Grace Loftus, who has been playing in the park regularly since before he started his work.
A gigantic Eagles Scout project
Nadir’s uncle, Doran Loftus, who has lived a half-a-block from the park since his family moved there in 1973, said he suggested the park renovation when he heard Nadir was looking for a project.
“He just jumped right on it, ” Loftus said.
Nadir said it turned out to be a little more work than he expected, but it was worth it.
“It was great. It was a good time, ” he said to the commissioners Tuesday while he was asking to have some streets blocked off for Sunday’s dedication.
Bill Lanier, committee chair for the parent’s group of Boy Scout Troop 1438, Nadir’s troop, said the work that went into this Eagle Scout project was head-and-shoulders above the average project.
Most Eagle Scout projects take 80 hours to 100 hours of work, Lanier said. Nadir’s project is closer to 1,500 hours.
Lanier said his involvement with the Scouts goes back to his youth in Great Falls, where, as an Eagle Scout himself, he saw close to 18 Eagle awards earned. He has never seen a project this immense, he said.
“I have heard of projects this big in Montana, but I have never seen or been part of one before, ” Lanier said.
He added that the troop leaders are making sure the other scouts in 1438 realize that most Eagle projects do not take this much work.
“It’s really set the bar very high for his fellow Boy Scouts, ” Lanier said. “We’ve tried to let them know they can try to accomplish this, but I hope doesn’t scare any off. ”
Collecting supplies and donations
A large part of Nadir’s work has been in getting help, and getting money. Diana Greytak said the final project had $20,000 worth of work and materials — with some of the materials partially or fully donated, and hours of use of equipment donated as well.
“I can’t get over the generosity of the community, ” she said.
Nadir spent hours talking to people, businesses and organizations, and also successfully applied for two grants to help pay for the work.
The generosity kept coming through. Diana Greytak said that, at one point, the costs for an order of gravel came in much higher than expected — then Darlene Tonjum gave a $1,000 donation in memory of her husband, Larry Tonjum, Rock Solid gave a discount on the gravel and then donated part of the amount, and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway also gave some help.
“In 45 minutes we had the gravel we needed, ” she said.
Other help continually came in. BLM Metals Custom Metal Designs made the sign, naming the park and dedicating it to Gracie and Grace, with Tina Michealis doing the actual design. Pacific Steel & Recycling donated the metal, Diana Greytak said.
“It is beautiful, ” she added.
Members of his troop, people who live near the park, family and friends and countless others also helped with the work, she said.
The fundraising continued through the project, including Nadir selling water bottles at last year’s Festival Days Parade and at other events in the community — that contributed about $1,000.
Nadir also worked to receive grants and contributions from many groups and organizations, including the Sleeter Fund administered by the Montana State University-Northern Foundation, United Way of Hill County, Triangle Communications, NorthWestern Energy, Walmart and other local and state groups.
Diana Greytak said one group that endorsed the project early on was the Havre Lions Club. The park originally was a Lions Club park, she said.
A long learning process
Dave Wilson, Havre parks and recreation director from 1993 through 2004 and a member of the Hill County Park Board as well as an employee of Beaver Creek Park, has helped Nadir through the process.
Wilson said he has served mainly as an advisor, especially about issues and regulations governing public facilities, parks and playground equipment.
“I enjoyed it, ” Wilson said. “He’s a young man learning things about life, and this was one of those projects where he was thrust in — maybe you can say by choice — but he’s the focal point. ”
Wilson said one key for Nadir was learning to talk to people about what needed to be done. In addition to ordering equipment, setting up work, and looking for grants and contributions, Nadir also had to talk to the people in positions of authority, in government, in businesses and organizations and in the community.
“It put him in a situation where he had to talk to a lot of people who have to make decisions, ” Wilson said. “Obviously, it was a good experience for him. He had to learn how to approach people. ”
Congratulations and thanks on the project
Nadir already has been receiving thanks and congratulations for his work.
“We really appreciate all that you’ve done, ” Hill County Commissioner Kathy Bessette told him this week. “We’re just really proud of you. You did a really terrific job, made a really nice improvement to that area for kids to play in and enjoy, and big kids too. ”
Doran Loftus said the improvement is “awesome. ”
The park had stayed about the same since 1973, and probably never would have been improved, he said.
“I don’t think there would have been a lot of change without him, ” Loftus said.
The work received many comments even before completion — along with neighbors helping with the work, people driving by would honk, wave out the window and shout their thanks to Nadir and whomever was helping him.
He said it has personal connections for his family — Grace, now 10, uses the park, although not much in the past because of the dilapidated equipment. The slide needed work, only one of the swings generally could be used and the teeter-totter also didn’t function. Now she is there every night, if she is able, Loftus said.
Lanier said the benefits have not just been for the North Havre park and residents there.
“It’s really opened things up for (Nadir,) the fact that he wants to make a difference, ” Lanier said. “He’s grown a lot in this past year and a lot of that has to do with this project. ”
Hill County Commissioner Jeff LaVoi said the project is inspirational.
“It renews the faith in the youth, ” LaVoi said. “A lot of times, young people sometimes get a bad rap, but there’s a lot of good ones out there, and he’s one of them. ”