From an empty field to a dog park

By Evelyn Cook, Pilot staff writer February 19, 2011 05:00 am

Matthew Raleigh and Austin Bertelson stand in front of finished dog park. The Pilot/Evelyn Cook
A lot of people have talked about building a dog park, but it took a 16-year-old Boy Scout to actually get it done – with a little help from his friends.

Matthew Raleigh, a sophomore at Brookings-Harbor High School, needed a project to complete the requirements for becoming an Eagle Scout.

OPRD Park Ranger Austin Bertelson needed some willing volunteers to install a pet exercise area at McVay Rock State Recreation Area.

“Bertelson approached me,” Matthew’s dad, Bruce Raleigh said, “since I’m the Scoutmaster for Troop 251. He said he’d like to have it done and had approval from the parks department.”

Raleigh ran the idea past his son, and Matthew said it sounded like a good project to help meet his Eagle requirements.

Plans were drawn with the help of Bertelson, who assisted with every phase of the project. The state parks department provided the materials and Matthew gathered a crew of adult and youth volunteers.

“They were people in my scout troop and from church,”  Matthew said.

He attends The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Brookings, which sponsors his scout troop.

Last summer, in three days of hard labor, a work crew of about 14 turned the dog park idea into a 100-foot-wide by 300-foot-long fenced reality.

Bruce Raleigh said he is proud of his son.

“When we were doing the actual building, we adults stepped back and Matthew directed the volunteers – adult as well as youth,” he said.

“Having been an Eagle Scout myself,” he added, “I know how much hard work and perseverance it takes to achieve that.”

Raleigh said Matthew is following in the family tradition. Matthew’s three older brothers, Jonathan, 25, Eric, 23, and Justin, 21, are Eagle Scouts. Chances are, his little brother, Brandon, 2 1/2, will be one, too, someday, Raleigh said.

Besides Bertelson and Bruce and Matthew Raleigh, volunteers who helped build the dog park include adults: Glen Perazzo, Nanette Scaggs and Bonnie Raleigh, and youth: Daniel Fletcher, Matthias Fletcher, Clay Evans, Eric Perazzo, Ryan Perazzo, Hannah Perazzo, Dylan Hiller, Easton Scaggs, Ben Bowers and Harrison Farr.