CHARLESTOWN — About a year ago, when Eagle Scout candidate Bryar Whelan set out to build a community police memorial, he heard over and over that he needed to scale back the project to make it more achievable.
It only motivated the longtime Boy Scout to prove he could do what he set out to do.
Whalen's vision came to life on June 13 when Police Chief Michael Paliotta, Council President Virginia Lee, the Rev. Paul Desmarais of St. Mary's Church in Charlestown and about 35 other officers, town officials and area residents came together to dedicate the new Charlestown Police Memorial outside the department's headquarters.
"I’m proud of everyone who helped out. There were over 200 volunteer hours and all funds were raised through donations," Whelan, 17, said Tuesday. "From my troop to the businesses, there were so many people that offered their support."
The memorial, a Vermont granite headstone mounted on a 20-foot concrete patio with a crushed stone center, is adjacent to the police station, a reminder of the sacrifices made by law enforcement.
Paliotta said the monument will be used at the town's Peace Officers Memorial Day ceremony, which is held annually on May 15.
"We are very proud of our new monument and took great care in its design in order to make it all inclusive and meaningful," Paliotta said. "During the design phase we made the decision that the monument was intended to recognize the selfless sacrifices made by all law enforcement personnel, both sworn police officers and our civilian support staff."
Whelan, of Ashaway, who will be a senior at Chariho High School in the fall, is a member of Hopkinton Boy Scout Troop 12, which meets often at the Quonochontaug Grange. He is also a member of the school’s Future Business Leaders of America program, and attended the annual FBLA National Leadership Conference this week in San Antonio.
Whelan and his father, Daren, said that the Charlestown police and Charlestown Chamber of Commerce, which is led by Paliotta’s wife, Heather, have provided significant support to the Boy Scout troop. It's been a successful partnership: The troop works the gates and runs a booth at the chamber's annual Seafood Festival in August, an effort that is now the Boy Scouts' top fundraiser. And when it came time to carry out a community service project, the Whelans said their first thought was to consult with the Paliottas.
Within a few short weeks, the concept for the memorial was born. Bryar Whelan then approached local businesses for donations, and managed to raise more than $6,500.
“He didn’t use the traditional Scout fundraising methods such as selling candy bars or hurrying to seek help from family,” Daren Whelan said. “He instead went right out and began to seek donations from businesses and search for those that could help with the work. He showed me skills that I didn’t know he had.”
Bryar described it as a self-help effort, saying he wanted to improve his skills as a project organizer. During the course of his work, Whelan said he received many donations from businesses, but noted that two in particular went above and beyond. He said that the Washington County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 40, which represents Charlestown officers, immediately provided a large donation, and Daniel Makin, a certified financial planner with the Professional Planning Group in Westerly, volunteered as his adviser throughout the project and provided a sizable final donation.
The relationship has paid off in another way, because Whelan will work as an intern this summer at the Professional Planning Group. He's interested in a finance-based career.
With the project now done, Whelan has a few final tasks to finish earning the rank of Eagle Scout, but the hardest part is now over. And he said he couldn’t be happier with how things turned out.
“During the dedication, I kind of just looked around a moment and thought, ‘Wow, I really did this,’” he said.