Ever-observant Rhett Seagler has been coming to work with his dad, Sgt. Terry Seagler, for a number of years now and noticed that the HPD Museum on the first floor of 1200 Travis lacked places where visitors could sit down.
Smart minds work together. Museum director Steve Duffy was aware of some surplus benches from the pistol range at the academy that were ripe for repurposing. Duffy knew that scouting emphasizes teamwork and repurposing.
These conditions made for a good match, for the younger Seagler was looking for a meaningful and lasting Eagle Scout project he would have to complete roughly by the end of the year.
“He wanted something that would be around for decades and be inspiring and meaningful to him and others,” Terry Seagler told the Badge & Gun. “He’s been coming to work with me a lot. He has many memories at 1200 Travis or other stations
“He often went to the museum downstairs to see the badges and memorabilia and noticed that there was really no place to sit and think about all these things, to read, etc. He wanted to construct benches so people would have places to sit. The city of Houston logo is a train and he wanted to incorporate something that would use a train rail.”
Duffy was more than just a little willing to assist in helping an ambitious high school senior earn his Eagle Scout honor by manufacturing benches for the museum.
It also helped that Terry’s duties sometimes take him to the Tactical Ops Headquarters, 7077 Perimeter Dr. off Beltway 8.
Here is the story of what happened when dedicated people put their heads together.
Duffy always had in mind a repurposing project for benches kept in storage. They had slatted red oak sturdiness but needed stronger legs to be truly useful.
A year ago, he learned Rhett was looking for an Eagle Scout project and the rest is museum-quality history.
“Rhett took the wood and restored it, restained it and resealed it and added the legs,” Duffy explained.
Now then, out near Tactical Ops was a stack of discarded rails from a discontinued railroad route. “The train tracks were alongside the Beltway and 290,” Terry explained. “We salvaged a big section of the rail. The inscription on the base plates indicated they were from the 1920s.”
A Seagler grandfather was a conductor for Southern Pacific, he said, adding even more meaning to Rhett’s bench plan.
“We used a band saw and cutting torch to get in useable sections,” the sergeant said. “These are heavy – 30 pounds per foot. We cut them into 22-inch sections for the footing, sandblasted them and did the prep work so that we could weld.”
Rhett was the project manager and, as such, supervised a “workforce” is part of the Eagle Scout experience.
He took the red oak from the “retired benches” at the academy and positioned them in place after more prep work that included the final eight coats of polyurethane over the stain. He used carriage bolts to attach the base plate that was welded to the legs. None of this was particularly easy.
Meanwhile back at the museum, Duffy was putting together an arrangement that would accommodate four 200-pound benches. “Two will be at the Wall of Honor and two others throughout the museum,” Duffy explained.
The museum director was also pleased to report the way the project all came together: “My son Richard went to school with Rhett and mentioned to him that I was looking for a Boy Scout in need for an Eagle project.
“Rhett reached out to me and said he was interested. So what we have is a great connection – a police officer’s son whose Eagle Scout project was repurposing these materials to make benches for a police museum largely dedicated to those officers who died in the line of duty.”
Rhett is a senior at Cy-Woods High School in Cypress. Besides scouting in Troop 1014 he spends time with church and – in the words of his dad – “is into boxing.” After graduation in May he’s considering enlisting in the U. S. Air Force, where his brother Christopher, 22, currently is in Boot Camp.
“I think they both have interest in public service, either as a firefighter or in law enforcement,” said the proud papa, an HPOU Board member.
Terry estimated the number of hours spent on the project to be in the range of 150. “I love it,” he said. “I think it’s a great idea.”
He said the plaque on each bench will have Rhett’s name and troop number. The plaques also will contain words to the effect that the bench “is dedicated to those who sacrificed their lives for the city of Houston.”