Saturday was a banner day for the trusty ol’ “Plan B.”
Thanks to 18-year-old John W. Bisso’s ability to roll with adversity and come up with a backup Eagle Scout project, holidays on Lewiston’s Main Street will be even more patriotic and colorful with his installation of seven flags at the western entrance to downtown.
His original project was to build drop boxes where people could deposit their worn out American flags, then hold an annual flag retirement ceremony. The best-laid plans are only as good as their weakest link, however, and two months ago Bisso found his. Scouts aren’t allowed to use the power tools or welders building the boxes would require, so Bisso had someone lined up to do that part of the work. But that person had to back out.
“I had all this planned inside my head, but I’m like, ‘OK, plan B,’ ” Bisso said before invoking the timeless Scout motto. “I’d rather be prepared than sorry.”
There had been some red-flag warnings as he checked with his builder over the summer. So Bisso started thinking of an alternative, tapping some of the resourcefulness he’s learned as part of Venturing Crew 645 of the Scouts’ Inland Northwest Council. A few years ago some local Scouting groups started lining Main Street with American flags for most holidays, and Bisso had an idea to expand the practice.
After he fleshed out the idea and turned it into a plan of action, Bisso, a group of other Scouts and some adult helpers converged on Baughman Park, where Snake River Avenue merges with Main Street. The tall retaining wall behind the Indian sculptures at the tiny site is braced with several large, vertical steel girders, and Bisso’s crew put them to use.
After clearing the brush and weeds that impeded their access to the top of the wall, the adult helpers put up ladders (Scouts aren’t allowed to work more than 5 feet off the ground) while the Scouts helped from above. Working together, they drilled holes into the metal and bolted short sections of steel pipe to the girders to hold the flag poles.
The flags that will be displayed for military holidays include banners from the five branches of the military and an American flag, along with the POW/MIA flag. The American flag and the Idaho state flag will be posted for other holidays. Most of the materials for the project were donated by the local veterans association American War Fighters, and Bisso bought much of the hardware out of his own pocket.
Bisso successfully went through his board of review last week, officially earning the rank of Eagle Scout. His scouting crews have been chartered with local military groups, so completing the project and holding the dedication just before Saturday’s Veterans Day parade meant a lot to him.
“I’ve worked with veterans a lot being part of an American Legion post and a (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post, so it was of major significance to get this project done,” Bisso said. “And I wanted it to have the opening ceremony on an important day for veterans.”
He also expressed relief at getting the work done and earning his new rank, and reflected on wise words in the Scouting handbook about the unpredictable road that all Scouts find on their road to becoming an Eagle Scout.
“You don’t know what’s ahead of you,” he said. “You only know what’s behind you and who’s on your side that will help you on the trail.”
Mills may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2266.