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Gladstone’s welcome sign gets facelift

Courtesy photo Upgrades to the worn-down and overgrown Welcome to Gladstone sign are shown. Life Scout Alex Williams, 17, of Gladstone raised money and organized the project to upgrade the sign so it would be properly visible from both the highway and Lake Michigan.

GLADSTONE — When driving north towards the city of Gladstone along the Lake Michigan shoreline, motorists can check out the upgraded Welcome to Gladstone letters positioned on the hillside to the right.

Life Scout Alex Williams, 17, approached the Gladstone Parks and Recreation Department to do a service project at the beginning of his senior year at Gladstone High School. The service project is a part of his journey into becoming an Eagle Scout.

Jason Davis, the assistant director of the parks and recreation department, said he worked directly with Williams in figuring out what exactly Williams could do to help the city.

The Welcome to Gladstone sign, which was overgrown and in dire need of some TLC, was picked to be the best fit for Williams’ project.

According to Davis, the original sign needed a lot of work.

He described the area as overgrown with grass, trees and bushes;letters knocked down after its support rotted away, letters in need of a fresh coat of paint and poor lighting.

Davis said the sign itself was originally put up by Anders Nyberg many years ago.

Williams explained the reason he approached the Gladstone Parks and Recreation Department for his project was because he was born and raised in Gladstone.

“I really love the place and knew I wanted to do something within the town — help improve it in anyway,” he said.

When Davis suggested working on the sign, Williams felt it was a good fit because he knew who had originally put up the sign.

Williams said Nyberg’s scout troop used to maintain the sign every few years since its installation, however, it hadn’t been done in five or six years.

Fundraising for the project began after Williams got his project proposal approved. He raised around $500 for the project costs.

“I believe I started fundraising late September, early October,” Williams said. “After I got my proposal approved, which was basically what I planned to do for the project.”

The proposal had to be approved by Rick Schenier, Williams’ scout leader; a counsel representative of the Boy Scouts; Davis; and the board of Williams’ scout troop — Scout Troop 473 of Flat Rock.

The actual work on upgrading the sign started mid-October.

He added every time he worked on the project, he tried his best to get many of the local scouts to help.

“We had three or four per weekend depending on what people had going on,” Williams said.

During the times Williams and other scouts worked on the project, Davis said he put out cones to ensure motorists would be cautious near the area of the road Williams would be.

“My overall goal while he was doing the project was his safety,” Davis said.

From cutting grass to replacing support posts, a lot of work was put into the sign.

Williams said all of the work done to the sign included replacement of posts that support the letters — especially for the letter “o” which had fallen over, scrapped and repainted the letters yellow, cut down trees blocking the view of the sign from the highway and lake, and groomed bushes and tall grass around the sign.

“We spent around for to five weekends out there,” Williams said.

Davis described Williams of having a good work ethic.

According to Davis, when Williams said he was going to be working, he worked and he accomplished what he set out to do, which was to improve the sign.

With the recreation department cleaning up its lighting system for the sign, the work on the sign concluded in early November.

Although the sign was done, Williams said he brought rocks to the shoreline near the sign to protect it from erosion just this past weekend.

The sign that greets motorists on US 2 & 41 and M-35 heading towards Gladstone from Escanaba can be seen again, which is something Williams is proud of.

“It actually feels really good,” Williams said about seeing his hard work.

He added the sign has garnered more notice from the public, which is also a good feeling.

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