In Middletown at about 9 this morning, a troop of teenage boys will be staring at a wooden sign on Highway 29 south.
The sign is 10-feet-by-7-feet, white with purple accents, and features a horse in the middle. It reads “Welcome to Middletown, Home of the Mustangs” and lists the town’s population (1,323) and elevation (1,099 feet).
But what makes the sign rubberneckingly remarkable is the thought and effort behind it.
Phone calls to the Rotary Club of Middletown started the process last fall, shortly after the devastating Valley fire. One call came from Bonnie Hill and Erik Paul, owners of Insight Signs & Graphics in Forestville.
The other call came from Jordan Gurries, a sophomore at Santa Rosa High School.
Hill and Paul wanted to gift the Lake County town a replacement welcome sign for the one destroyed in the fire.
Gurries, 16, had the same idea.
“I was looking at doing a project for the park service,” Gurries said, “but then the fire in Middletown happened, and I thought I could really help them out by doing something there.”
He spent seven months working on the sign as his Eagle Scout project for Boy Scout Troop 121. Hill and Paul mentored him through the process.
The sign’s design went through about five overhauls and two different color schemes.
Gurries said while the project didn’t stress him out, he’s relieved the process is over.
“I’ve learned that things don’t really go the way you plan for the most part,” he said.
He first joined Cub Scouts in the fourth grade, transitioning to Boy Scouts at age 10.
A Scout’s Eagle Project is an opportunity to demonstrate leadership of others while performing a project for the benefit of his community. Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank available in Boy Scouts.
“I’ll feel something great in me whenever I drive by, just to think I helped out the community,” Gurries said.
For Hill and Paul, mentoring Gurries through the process was one of their greatest takeaways.
“He’s really awesome,” Hill said.