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Keeping the roads clear

Butkonen completes Eagle Scout project to keep snowdrifts off winter streets

November 9, 2010

TORCH LAKE TOWNSHIP - At 15-and-a-half years old, Mitchell Butkonen doesn't have his driver's license yet. But living along the Gay-Lake Linden Road, he's seen the snowdrifts blowing onto the roads from open fields every winter.

To prevent that from happening, he and fellow members of Boy Scouts Troop 212 planted 3,000 trees in six spots for his Eagle Scout project.

"I decided if I did that, it'd be much easier driving when it was my turn to drive," he said.

Butkonen came up with three sites on the Gay-Lake Linden Road.

Two spots - two sites on Pepin Road and the Lake Linden School Forest Road - were suggested by the Houghton County Road Commission, which donated the trees.

Planting began in May; by the end of August, it was complete.

Ten volunteers participated, usually in groups of two to three, logging 105 hours in all.

In his Eagle Project description, Butkonen identified possible hazards: "a potentially sore back, bug bites and sunburn." But aside from the odd patch of rocky soil, there were no major hiccups.

While Butkonen won't be as intensively involved in Scouting for the two-and-a-half years he has left, he'll still be part of it.

Butkonen started out as a Cub Scout seven-and-a-half years ago after one of his childhood friends joined. He's been in ever since, even going to the national Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia.

"I like all the camping trips, and the fact you get to help other people for a good cause," he said.

For Butkonen, the most important thing about attaining Eagle Scout is it shows he can stick with something.

"You can't do it in one year, two years or in three years," he said. "It takes time, work and effort."

Garrett Neese can be reached at



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