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American flag retirement drop box unveiled at courthouse
Eagle Scout project to benefit community
W Flag retiremnt drop box
Kenneth Cole Johnson, 15-year-old son of Ken Johnson and Angela Johnson, unveiled the flag retirement drop box on the Courthouse square that his Eagle Scout project provided for community use to drop off worn American flags for proper and dignified retirement ceremonies. - photo by JULIE LAVENDER/Special

The Bulloch County Courthouse square has a new permanent fixture thanks to a local Eagle Scout project completed under the direction of 15-year-old Statesboro High School student Cole Johnson, member of Troop 342 sponsored by Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church.

The unveiling of an official, permanent flag retirement box took place Tuesday with fellow troop members, troop leaders and local law enforcement officials in attendance. 

Johnson, the son of Ken and Angela Johnson, has taken part in Scouting for over five years and came up with the idea for the project a couple of years ago. It has taken over a year to come to fruition.

“Our troop has almost 100 American flags dropped off at our Scout hut every year by people who don’t know the proper method to retire them,” Johnson said. “After talking with my Scout Master Lovett Bennett, we decided a flag drop box would be a great service to the community.”

The flag repository, mounted near the Siebold Street entrance to the courthouse, was repurposed from an old and damaged stand-up blue mailbox that had been retired. Ironically, the flag drop box’s original home was diagonally across from its new location, on the corner of Courtland and Siebald streets, where it collected mail until a vehicle crashed into it. 

With metal work, paint and an applied wrap, the box’s new job is to collect damaged and frayed American flags for a proper retirement ceremony. Johnson will maintain the box for the remainder of his Scouting career and will pass the job along to another Scout in the future.

Community members may drop off worn American flags in need of retirement in the box with the assurance that they will be retired properly with dignity and under the guidelines of American flag etiquette.

Johnson had help from fellow Scouts as well as various individuals and businesses in the community. At the unveiling ceremony, he thanked Tim Couch and Jeff Akins for green-lighting the project, David Queen for repairing the damaged box with metal work, Ken Daniels and Preferred Collision for sanding and painting the box and preparing it to be wrapped, George Gagel and Lowe’s for providing supplies, the Kiwanis Club of Statesboro for financial support that paid for materials and the wrap for the box, Noe Klumpp and Troop 342 Scouts for the installation, and Scout Master Lovett Bennett for his continued support throughout Johnson’s Scouting years.

After earning 42 merit badges, Johnson said he’s learned skills in many different areas.

“Only 5 percent of Boy Scouts reach the ultimate goal of becoming an Eagle Scout,” he said. “By joining this elite group of Scouts, I believe it shows I am determined to succeed at reaching my goals and am a hard worker, which will help me in applying to colleges and in my career.

“Participating in Scouting has taught me leadership skills, how to be a team player (and) life skills through merit work, and I’ve developed lifelong friendships.”

During his time in Scouting, Johnson has taken part in several high-adventure activities. This summer, he accompanied his troop on a sailing trip in the Florida Keys at Sea Base. His favorite trip so far, he said, was to Northern Tier, where he canoed the border waters between the United States and Canada. 

“I enjoyed this trip because I love being in nature, and it was absolutely beautiful,” he said. “None of these trips would be possible without the support of the Statesboro Primitive Baptist Church and our troop’s Boston butt sales, which help support our troop.”

Johnson is already looking to future Scouting adventures and plans to take part in a hiking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico next summer, a trip reserved for Scouts 15 and older that have been active in the troop for the year.


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