OSAWATOMIE — When Chris Daggett first laid eyes on the obscure park at the corner of 10th and South streets, the Boy Scout from Troop 106 in Osawatomie knew his Eagle Scout project had just come into view.
“I was just looking at Google Maps to try and figure out if there was anything around town I could do for an Eagle Scout project, when I realized that there was a park down here at 10th and South that I had never heard of,” Chris said.
“So one day after school, I came down here, made a list of everything that needed repaired and possible additions,” said Chris, a 17-year-old junior at Osawatomie High School. “I took the idea to the city manager (Mike Scanlon) to see if he would approve it, and he did.
“And then from there, I started planning everything out and presented it to the City Council,” Chris said. “They were excited about it.”
So the project to restore and improve Anna January Park began.
“I wanted to get this park shaped up,” Chris said. “I repainted everything. I replaced the boards on the two benches and picnic table. I replaced the swings and the chains. I replaced the basketball goal and painted a free-throw line and a three-point line and a four square hopscotch. I also added a bench on the north side of the basketball goal.”
Chris also planted two Bloodgood Maple trees.
“Their leaves remain red, so I thought it would look good with the park,” he said.
Chris also added a sign at the southeast corner of the park that includes a brief synopsis of the park’s namesake.
Anna January devoted much of her life to the preservation of Osawatomie’s history and was thought of as the community’s first historian.
January led the effort to acquire the land where the Battle of Osawatomie took place in 1856 and turn the site into the John Brown Memorial Park. Former President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the park in 1910. January also spearheaded the effort to build Memorial Hall and the placement of the John Brown statue in the park, which was dedicated in 1935.
Chris and his mom, Kelly Daggett, stood at the southern edge of the park on a crisp Saturday morning in late October as people gathered for a park dedication ceremony.
Kelly said the new and improved Anna January Park fits nicely with what the Osawatomie PRIDE group has been doing to clean up the community to make it nice for residents and more attractive to visitors.
Chris has been in Scouting since the first grade. He said some other family members have been in Scouts but he will be the first to become an Eagle Scout — the highest achievement attainable in the Boy Scouts of America.
Chris said he enjoys the opportunities he’s had in Boy Scouts.
“I’m not the type of kid that would normally just go out on a weekend and camp out somewhere,” Chris said. “But Scouts has pretty much made camping a normal occurrence for me. And Scouts, with all the volunteering and community projects that we do, it gives me a chance to give back to the community.”
Chris said he had a long list of people to thank for helping him make the improvements to the park and for donating some of the materials. He started planning the project in mid-August, and the first work day at the park occurred over the Labor Day weekend.
“We just got done today with the sign,” Chris said at the Oct. 24 rededication. “That’s the last thing we had to do.”
Before cutting the ribbon to officially rededicate the park, which was first dedicated in 2009, Mayor Mark Govea and Troop 106 Scoutmaster Matt Chilson joined Chris in offering some brief remarks about the project.
“I’m so impressed with the outpouring of help from the community. The Scout Troop has always been a group you can count on. They are and have been active all over the community,” said Govea, who once was a member of Troop 106.
The project has helped put the park back on the map and bring recognition to an important figure in Osawatomie’s history, Govea said.
“This one project has really stood out for so many reasons,” Govea said. “Anna January was an individual that I’m afraid has been overlooked. It seems like the park has almost been forgotten, many not knowing anything about it or where it sets.”
Chilson told the audience that, on average, an Eagle Scout project requires about 130 hours of work. He said Chris invested about 300 to 350 hours of work into this project. The Scoutmaster said he was proud of Chris and all the Scouts who helped him with the project.
Kelly Daggett smiled when she talked about the work that went into Chris’ project.
“I am so proud of him,” said Kelly as she scanned the park grounds. “When he saw this park for the first time, something just clicked for him that this was his Eagle Scout project, and he put in the work to make it happen.”