Future Eagle Scout makes his mark

Pikeville 16-year-old Blake Justice (center) works with his father Phil Justice and his brother Jackson Kennedy after filling in the marker hole with dry concrete along the nature trail at Bob Amos Park on Wednesday.

Pikeville native Blake Justice’s Eagle Scout service project could potentially save the lives of Pikeville residents who walk along one of the main walking trails at Bob Amos Park.

Justice, 16, created 10 blue markers, one for every quarter of a mile, and placed them along the trail with the help of his father, Phil Justice, and his brother, Jackson Kennedy. The markers provide longitude and latitude coordinates of their locations and are meant to help visitors with providing their location along the trail in case of an emergency.

The markers are tied to exact GIS points on the city’s 911 mapping and are designed to help emergency responders find visitors along the park trail who might need help, as well as improve the response time for emergency responders. The Pikeville City Commission expressed support for the project during a May meeting, during which Justice addressed the commission.

Justice said it was difficult for visitors to figure out their locations in case of an emergency before.

“The trail was marked, but those markers weren’t accurate,” Justice said.

Justice and his family used donated lumber, metal signage and tools to create the markers, including an auger to drill a hole into the ground on the side of the trail and a post hole digger to prepare the hole for the wooden post, which has a blue marker nailed onto it. They completed the project on Wednesday.

Justice is currently a Life Scout, the second-highest achievement or rank attainable in the Scouts BSA program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). To become an Eagle Scout, which is the highest achievement, Justice needed to complete a service project for his community, among other requirements. He has been a member of Boy Scouts of America for 10 years.

Since the inception of the BSA in 1911, only four percent of Scouts have earned the highest rank after a lengthy review process. Eagle Scouts exemplify the virtues of service, leadership and duty to God, using their training and influence to better their communities and the world. The rank has been earned by only 2.5 million youth in the program, according to the National Eagle Scout Association.

Justice’s father Phil, who is a scout leader, said he encouraged other Eagle Scouts to follow Justice’s lead and create markers for other hiking trails at Bob Amos Park.

“I think it’s inspirational,” Phil said. “It’s a very needed project that all of Pikeville will be able to benefit from.”

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