12/14/11 Eagle Scout makes bust of Martin Luther King Jr.

Eagle Scout makes bust of Martin Luther King Jr.
Justin Morrison works on his Eagle Scout project, a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in front of the Mayco Bigelow Community Center. Morrison is presenting his project Saturday, which doubles as a unique gift for the city.

Submitted photo   

Justin Morrison works on his Eagle Scout project, a bust of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in front of the Mayco Bigelow Community Center. Morrison is presenting his project Saturday, which doubles as a unique gift for the city.

TAKING THE ‘LAST STEP’
By Molly McGowan The Times-News 12/14/11     
Reprinted with permission.

   It took Justin Morrison two years of planning, several meetings with Burlington city staff and council, and a ruined first attempt, but his Eagle project is finally complete and ready to present to the city.

   On Saturday, North Park will host an unveiling and dedication ceremony where the bust of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that Morrison sculpted will be revealed.

   Morrison is a senior at Williams High School and a member of Boy Scouts of America’s Troop 39 of Macedonia Lutheran Church in Burlington. According to a city news release, Morrison began Cub Scouting with the same troop when he was in first grade. On Saturday , he’ll unveil his Eagle project, which doubles as a unique gift to the city.

   “It’s like your last step,” Morrison said, describing the purpose of an Eagle project. He said a Scout is supposed to choose a project that shows the skills he acquired through Cub and Boy Scouting and should benefit the community.

   Morrison said, “I’ve always been interested in art,” and wanted to challenge himself with his project, so he picked an art medium with which he’d never worked before. “I wanted to do something big for my Eagle Scout project, and there’s nothing commemorating (Dr. King) — to my knowledge — in Burlington,” he said.

   Before he ever began assembling the bust, which sits atop a 46-inch stone base at the entrance of the Mayco Bigelow Community Center, Morrison had to take his idea to the Recreation and Parks Commission. Once the commission approved his plans, Morrison had to present them to the City Council. After that, his project had to be officially approved by an Eagle Scout board of review.

   On Jan. 18, Morrison presented his plans to the City Council and said that even though Burlington is a small city, it should have a memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. somewhere. The council agreed and approved Morrison’s project

.    “I’d like to thank you, because that’s an area we’re trying to work on as a city,” Councilman Celo Faucette said to Morrison. “My hat’s off to you, young man.”

   William Gattis, director of the Mayco Bigelow Community Center, said in the release that once the bust is unveiled, he wants to start educational contests and opportunities using the memorial to help raise awareness with students at nearby Eastlawn and Andrews elementary schools.

   In June, Morrison began working with local sculptor Jim Barnhill, to whom one of his Scout leaders introduced Morrison. They made the casting for the bust first, and used donated material from Morrison & Son Construction — Morrison’s uncle’s business — and funds he raised himself.

   “I didn’t have to dip into my own pocket,” Morrison said, since his fundraising car wash in July was a success.    “The week before Thanksgiving, that Friday, we had put everything together,” Morrison said. The last process was firing the terra cotta form, which required constant supervision.

   Morrison said Barnhill was on shift at the time, and heard a noise inside the kiln. When he went to look, the head of the bust had crumbled, ruining the piece.

   “We were going to put it up that Monday,” Morrison said.

   They made a second, successful attempt using the castings they’d already made. But this time, “Because we ran out of time, we used concretepoured cement,” Morrison said, explaining they’d dyed the concrete.

   “It looked just as good as the terra cotta once it hardened,” Morrison said. “And it took a day.”

   The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Saturday in front of the Mayco Bigelow Community Center.