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Log cabin gets facelift courtesy of Eagle Scout

A 70-plus-year-old building in Ellsworth's East End Park has gotten a refreshed look, thanks to a local Eagle Scout candidate.

Seth Mahaffey took on renovation of the park's log cabin as a project to partially fulfill Eagle Scout requirements. Mahaffey and a crew of around a dozen Scouting and family friends accomplished the job one Saturday earlier this fall.

"I talked to (Scoutmaster) Nick Falkofske and he knew about this need," the 15-year-old candidate said Tuesday in remembering how he'd looked for some kind of community service effort.

The crew replaced tar paper on the cabin's roof, as well as covered it with shingles, which the structure didn't have, he said. They also "re-chinked" the sides, involving new cement being put between the logs. That duty was mostly handled by the Scouts.

"The adults were mainly up on the roof," he said, noting they included a friend of his father who's in construction.

Mahaffey said he arranged for the delivery of materials, which were supplied by the village. Ladders, hammers and trowels were brought to the site, too. The work went as planned on the 14-by-18 foot cabin that's often used for family get-togethers. It was originally built in the 1930s, he understood from Hillcrest Elementary School Teacher and Historian Pat Mory.

After deciding this summer the cabin improvements would be his project, he got approval for the job from village officials, the Scoutmaster and Scout community board members with whom he met. He was doing a follow-up report about the renovation last week, he said.

The project well-suited the Ellsworth High School sophomore, who said he especially enjoys shop classes. Among assignments in them, he's done house-building using a computer software program.

The local native said he began in Scouting at age 10 as a Cub Scout, encouraged by his friends to join.

"The Pinewood Derby was my favorite part," he said, explaining he helped build a small car for the race, held at English Lutheran Church.

Camping was another memorable activity for him. As a Cub, he camped near Stillwater, Minn., and later at Birchwood outside of Rice Lake did some fishing, he said. The Scouts gutted and cooked the crappies they caught on-the-spot.

"We caught over 30 fish," he said.

In Webeloes for two years, Mahaffey recalled food drives when the Scouts went door-to-door collecting goods for the county's food shelf. Since he "bridged" to Boy Scouts in a ceremony, he's attended weekly meetings to plan for camps and operation of the 20-member troop, sold popcorn and wreathes, and helped with the Scout House on the county fairgrounds. One of the best experiences for him was going to Minnesota's Boundary Waters recreation area in the summer of last year.

"From Thursday to Sunday, we canoed and fished," he said, noting their catch included many walleyes and the weather was a bit rainy. The Scouts weren't too far from a massive fire in the wilderness, but weren't in danger, he added.

Earning badges has been important to his Scouting career, especially those required to be an Eagle, the candidate said, indicating he still needs five more. The badge he liked the most was for fishing, which called for catching two fish, cleaning one and throwing one back. A wilderness survival badge was least liked by the camper, who brought along a tarp for the primitive adventure.

Besides a special fondness for fishing, the son of Mike and Mary Mahaffey, who has a 13-year-old brother, Sam, enjoys hunting and dirt biking. He said he wants a career in engineering. Meantime, he's hoping to have fulfilled all of his Eagle requirements by next spring, when a Court of Honor is planned.