Scouts restoring Bayfront benches

The Bayfront Bench Project is working to restore the neglected benches that line the boardwalk on the Newport Bayfront. Members of Boy Scout Troop 240 held a work day to begin restoration efforts on wooden memorial benches. (Photos by Cheri Brubaker)

NEWPORT — Boy Scout Troop 240 has joined the effort to save the 89 benches that line the Newport Bayfront. The Bayfront Bench Project was spearheaded by Judy Bateman and Lavonne Bussey, and the first benches were restored by Steve Etter and Shane Kehoe.

With a spectacular view of the boats in the harbor and the Yaquina Bay Bridge, the benches provide a place to sit and gather while honoring someone’s loved one. Placed by the City of Newport, maintenance of the benches is the responsibility of the original sponsors.

People involved with the project have been working to locate the original sponsors of the benches that have not been properly maintained.

“Some of the benches have no one to take care of them anymore,” explained Bussey. “The people are gone.”

Many of the benches are in need of complete restoration, and the Bayfront Bench Project is looking for new sponsors of these.

Three abandoned benches have recently been adopted, but there are many available. Those interested in adopting a Bayfront bench can contact Bateman at 541-265-5584 or Bussey at 541-574-0132.

The alternative to restoring the benches is for the city to remove them. At an initial cost of $1,000, and enjoyed by residents and visitors alike, Bussey and Bateman felt they were worth saving.

Jason Birrer, assistant scoutmaster of Troop 240, connected with the ladies through the Newport Elks Lodge, which sponsors Troop 240. The scouts have embraced what will be both a service project and a fundraiser for the troop. They will repair and maintain the memorial benches for the original sponsors or new adopters in exchange for a small donation.

Most of the scouts in Troop 240 were on hand to remove the first bench. They sanded and stained the boards before replacing them. Next year, they will perform any necessary maintenance.

Many local businesses are supporting the Bayfront Bench Project. Birrer Construction has donated supplies and materials and loaned the boys tools. Builders First Source has donated items and has offered the scouts materials at cost. Sherwin Williams has supported the project since it began last year.

Troop 240 has a wish list of items that would help their efforts.

“They’re sanding by hand and working outside now,” said Birrer.

The scouts would appreciate donations of power sanders, hand tools and a toolbox. A basic laptop would help them contact owners and track materials and progress. What the scouts need most to keep momentum going is a place to work this winter that is out of the weather.

Boy Scout Troop 240 meets Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at the Elks in Newport. Anyone interested in learning more about scouting or wanting to make a donation can contact the senior patrol leader at [email protected] or Assistant Scoutmaster Jason Birrer at 541-272-9938.

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