MONTVILLE, NJ – Members of Boy Scout Troop 74 gathered on Jan. 14 as Scout Michael Manetta was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout at his Court of Honor.

Officials such as members of the Montville Township Committee, the Montville Township Board of Education, former post commander Frank Warholic of VFW Post 5481, Dee Cook, who is treasurer of the Dog Park Advisory Committee and Fishawack District Committee Chair Bob Davidson were on hand at the Senior House to offer their congratulations to Manetta, a junior at Montville Township High School.

Manetta’s project was to put together a team and erect a pergola at the Montville Township Dog Park. A pergola is a wooden gazebo-like structure that offers seating. TAPinto Montville spoke to Dog Park Advisory Committee Chair Joan Honig, who said that Manetta did an excellent job on the project. (Read about the project here: pergola.)

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Township Committee Member Matthew Kayne read a letter from Assemblyman Jay Webber, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, and Senator Joe Pennacchio which included a legislative commendation in recognition of Manetta’s achievement.

Former Mayor Jim Sandham said, “Michael’s Eagle Scout project is just part of the foundation of the building of a great individual; a process that involved life lessons in leadership, teamwork, dedication, courage, friendship and integrity.”

Board of Education Vice President Michael Palma said that the board recognizes Eagle Scout projects as very educational because they combine so many skills that are important in life and learned beyond textbooks, such as leadership, organization, respect, strategy, “and above all, learning that there’s only one way in life to do things: the right way.” Palma said the Manetta family has three Eagle Scouts and a Girl Scout Gold Award recipient.

“And that’s a lot to be proud of,” he said.

The board had a resolution for Manetta.

Former Post Commander of VFW Post 5481 Frank Warholic said he has followed a mantra all of his life taught to him by his 1st sergeant at his orientation when he was 19 at Camp Kilmer.

“The salty words of that sergeant taught me what life is all about,” Warholic said. “He said to us, ‘Make the right decision. All decisions have consequences. Good and bad.’ Michael, you have made a good decision.”

The Montville VFW Post and the state post had citations for Manetta.

Davidson, who was associated with Troop 74, said he had a part in Manetta’s brothers’ Eagle advancements.

“It wasn’t always easy but that makes you who you are,” Davidson said. “It takes a lot – families, communities, and men like these in uniform [Davidson indicated the assistant Scout masters and Scoutmaster Patrick Phalen].”

Davidson likened the achievement of Eagle ranking to Harry Potter’s wand.

“We all think the wand has the magic, but the wand didn’t have the magic,” Davidson said. “The wand worked for Harry because Harry was willing to face challenges bigger than himself. Mr. Olivander [in the Harry Potter books] said ‘We expect great things of you, Harry.’ And so, Mr. Manetta, today we tell you, we expect great things of you, not because you have the wand but because you have the Eagle patch, and that tells everyone you have all the tools. Face each day unafraid to do your best. Congratulations.”

“Opportunity is your choice, or you walk away from it,” Manetta’s mother Louisa told him. “There have been so many times I’ve looked at Mike and said, ‘why are you doing that?’ because he has so many pressures, and he’s looked back at me and said, ‘Mom, why wouldn’t I?’ Boy Scouts has been a part of your life for so many years, and I challenge you to keep that mindset and attitude as you continue your journey. I am absolutely awed by you, always reaching for more.”

Manetta thanked all the volunteers who worked on the pergola, the Scoutmaster and the Assistant Scoutmasters, and his family.

“Scouting has taught me so many things,” Manetta said.

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