WINDHAM - On their way to earning the rank of Eagle Scout, two brothers with heads for business saved Windham schools more than $20,000.
Chris and Tim Swierad are twins. Recently, the 17-year-old Salem High School juniors became the first two Nutfield District Eagle Scouts of 2008 - and they did it in the order they were born. Chris is the older twin by five minutes. But it wasn't the life head start that made the difference, Tim said.
"He got his project done first, and he got his paperwork in first," Tim said.
Both teens, sons of Chuck and Colleen Swierad, picked projects that helped Windham schools, which they attended.
Chris, for instance, noticed the stairs behind the playing fields at Golden Brook Elementary School looked dangerous.
"There were nails slipping out, and the stairs were slipping down the hill," he said. "As best as we could figure, these stairs were 25 years old."
Because the track and cross country teams use the stairs, he decided to replace them as his Eagle Scout project. The job took 212 hours of work, worth $3,831, based on $13 an hour, the standard figure the Boy Scouts use.
The materials cost more than $1,000. Chris managed up to a dozen people - Boy Scouts, friends and even a couple of teachers. They also added a railing.
Meanwhile, Tim, who played two years with the Windham Middle School baseball team, decided to improve the Michael J. Williams Jr. Memorial Field for his project. He supervised six or seven people in building a roof for each of the two dugouts. The project took 834 hours.
The labor was worth $12,697, and the materials cost $2,307.
Tim took charge of a smaller group because there were safety concerns with people going up on ladders, his father said.
"This is a big, big deal," School Board Chairman Al Letizio Jr. said. "Only a handful make it to Eagle rank."
He described the level of scrutiny the teens withstood from the Review Board to School Superintendent Frank Bass recently, as they walked out on the snow-covered playing fields to see the projects.
Letizio, who has known the boys since they were 5 or 6 years old, said the teens had to explain how they got electricity to the area where they were working and also had to account for every penny spent for materials. Bass was impressed.
The work they did should come as no surprise. They also own their own landscaping business, Lawns on Demand.
Chris, who wants to go into business management, took a management class during the school semester and wrote a business plan for the company. Tim plans a career in network administration.