After it seemed no one from government would come forward to clean up Tucker Cemetery, a Boy Scout showed up to save the day.
Craig Jarvis-Emberg, a 15-year-old member of Troop 311 in San Antonio, has been approved to clean and improve one of two county-owned cemeteries that serve as the final resting place for Pasco's poorest residents.
His mother, B.J. Jarvis, said he got the idea after reading a story in the Tampa Bay Times about Roberta Deal's one-woman crusade to call attention to the dried leaves, overgrown shrubs and trash that marred the graves of her stillborn daughter and others in the infant section of the east Pasco cemetery.
Deal, 41, brought her case to the County Commission meeting this week. Commissioners said they'd ask the Sheriff's Office to send an inmate crew out to clean up and maintain the cemetery, as the county parks department's budget allowed only for a vendor to mow it.
But sheriff's spokesman Doug Tobin said the agency hadn't done such work in more than a year because a contract with the Southwest Water Management District had expired. The contract had paid for a deputy to supervise the inmates.
It seemed there was no simple solution, until Craig came forward. "He was very excited," said Jarvis, who also works at the Pasco County Cooperative Extension in Dade City.
Craig, a sophomore at Pasco High School, has tentative plans for his troop to clear away weeds, leaves and debris, clean the grave markers and even add a bench.
The project was approved Wednesday by the Gulf Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Craig, an aspiring engineer who is on the Pasco High varsity swim team and a member of 4-H, said he thought it would be a perfect project.
"It would really benefit the community," he said. Craig said he will need sponsors as well as volunteers to help do the cleaning, which he hopes to begin as soon as possible.
An Eagle is the highest rank in Boy Scouting. To achieve it, the scout must progress through five lower ranks, earn at least 21 merit badges, serve six months in a troop leadership role, participate in a scoutmaster conference, be reviewed by a board and plan, develop and give leadership to a service project for any religious organization or any school or community.