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Boy Scout designs, builds free library boxes

Jack Blommel recently completed his Eagle Scout project – three, little free libraries in North Whitehall and Upper Macungie townships.

Blommel, 14, a Life Scout with Boy Scout Troop 110, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Whitehall, went to Parkland Community Library with his mother, Kerry looking for ideas for his Eagle project.

He wanted to do something associated with books and he found one.

"When we were at the library, we asked the children's librarian if she knew of any prospective Eagle projects, Blommel said. "She gave me Bev Kaercher's phone number.

"The idea for the little free libraries came from the Friends of the Parkland Community Library, but I designed them."

Blommel worked from the end of March to the end of May to design, make and install the three libraries.

His mother, father Anthony; brother Matthew, 10; sister Abigail, 12; grandparents Danny and Gail Dew; friends Aiden Stroup, Nathen Thomas Williams, Jacob Hendershot and Conner and Demmick McMullan; along with Elder Dean and Litton, LDS missionaries; helped make the little free libraries.

Joey Fontanelle with Platinum Pro Painters donated the paint and helped.

"Bob Pretorius from Lowe's donated a $25 gift card and 10 percent off a single purchase and Linda Bachman with Home Depot donated a $25 supply donation," Blommel said.

Blommel said in addition to designing and building the little free libraries he was required to be a Life Scout in a leadership position for six months, earn 13 merit badges and eight electives of his choice to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

The merit badges he earned include first aid, swimming, Citizenship in the World, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the Community, personal fitness, environmental science, personal management, life saving, camping, cooking, family life and communications.

"When I was 8 years old, I participated in the Pinewood Derby and I thought it was pretty cool and fun," Blommel said. "From there, I continued in Scouting."

In 2011 to 2012, Blommel won first place in the Pinewood Derby.

"My future plans in Scouting is to earn as many merit badges as I can and earn all three of my Eagle Scout Palms," Blommel said.

Kaercher, of Ballietsville, a representative for the Friends of Parkland Community Library, commented on the project.

"This was a project we wanted to pursue in order to promote reading and reach out to the Parkland Community," Kaercher stated.

Kaercher said she learned about the idea for the little free libraries after reading an article about another person who made them locally.

"After learning about them, I took the idea to the FPCL Board," Kaercher said. "They thought it was a great idea and agreed they would fund it."

Kaercher said around the same time Jack and his mother came into the library looking for ideas for his Eagle Scout project, someone from the library contacted me with Jack's name as someone who was willing to build them.

"We were fortunate to have met with Jack and his enthusiasm for the project," Kaercher said.

Now that the libraries have been installed, it is up to the homeowner at the location to maintain the selection of books and to provide the neighborhood with books of interest.

"The books are supplied to us from donations the public brought to the library for the book sale," Kaercher said. "The [little free] libraries provide books for all ages, children through adults."

Members of the Friends of Parkland Community Library are responsible to maintain the physical appearance of the libraries.

Kerry Blommel commented about the Friends of the Parkland Community Library.

"We would like to personally thank Mrs. Kaercher and the FPCL for the great opportunity for Jack to work with a great organization," Kerry Blommel said. "It has been a wonderful experience working with FPCL."

Blommel will be presented his Eagle Scout Badge Aug. 29 at his Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony.

PRESS PHOTOS BY LOU WHEELAND Friends of the Parkland Community Library North Whitehall representatives Lorna Rabe, Beverly Kaercher and Eagle Scout candidate Jack Blommel of Troop 110, join Maryann Wotring, membership chairperson for Friends, displaying Blommel's little free library box at Kaercher's Ballietsville home.