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Tut Hut built by Boy Scout at park honors late educator

June 11, 2017

DALTON, Ga. (AP) — Long before Henry Stevenson was born, longtime local educator Gertrude “Tut” McFarland was active with a local Girl Scout troop. The troop often met in a pavilion near a rock wall close to Lakeshore Park. In that same area, Stevenson, a rising senior at Dalton High School, recently completed his Eagle Scout project— a pavilion called the Tut Hut.

“I heard Ms. McFarland had Girl Scout meetings there and thought it would be a good spot to build a commemoration to her,” said Stevenson.

McFarland taught in the Dalton public school system for more than 40 years. She died on April 26 at the age of 90. She attended First United Methodist Church with Stevenson and they lived in the same neighborhood.

Stevenson started as a Cub Scout at age 7 with Troop 2 from First Presbyterian Church, now Christ Church Presbyterian, in Dalton. He has been a member of First United Methodist Church Troop 60 since age 14.

Doug Renz, a Dalton Parks and Recreation Department volunteer, designed the seven-tenths of a mile trail through Lakeshore Park. The trail connects at the bottom of the park through the tennis courts and loops around. The Tut Hut sits about three-tenths of a mile from the beginning of the trail.

Renz was on the lower part of the trail one winter when he saw the rock wall where the pavilion once was.

“I was thinking I’d found something from the Civil War,” he said.

Renz brought an artifact collector to the site to search for valuables, but they only found a pocket knife. Renz said he started to think who would know about the area and McFarland came to mind. They were also fellow church members.

McFarland told Renz it was where she attended Girl Scout meetings in a pavilion.

“I thought it would be cool to rebuild that and call it the Tut Hut,” he said.

Renz said he’s known Henry Stevenson’s family for a long time and knew he was looking for a scout project.

“All it took was me telling him about it and he took over,” Renz said.

With supplies of lumber and ladders from recreation department staff members and help from family, friends and troop members, Stevenson started planning the 10-by-12-foot pavilion. He said the pavilion took about 10 days to build.

Stevenson said he’s glad the project is done, but he learned a lot.

“I learned about construction and the value of having people willing to spend their time to help,” he said.

Stevenson said the pavilion is the first thing he’s built.

“It turned out exactly how I wanted, but I wish Ms. McFarland could’ve seen it,” he said.

Renz said although McFarland didn’t see the pavilion she knew about it.

“We weren’t going to tell her about it, but her health started declining so one day at church I told her,” he said. “She was surprised.”

Stevenson said the pavilion can be used as a resting place for people hiking the trail, a picnic area or a place to have meetings. He believes people should use the park more.

“It has a lot to offer, is a labor of love for the recreation department and (has) tennis courts and soccer fields, as well as a dog park and playgrounds,” he said.

John Barnes, an assistant scout leader, said the pavilion is a “good project for the community.”

“Whenever an Eagle Scout does a project it has to be able to be used by a community or school,” Barnes said. “Henry’s project is also good because it honors Miss Tut.”

Barnes said for scouts to achieve the eagle rank they must go out in the community and find a project that will benefit the community.

He said the troop will miss Stevenson’s leadership. There are about 25 scouts in the troop.

“This gives an opportunity for others to step up,” Barnes said. “Henry has accomplished the rank of Eagle, but he can always return to assist.”

Tyna Stevenson, Henry’s mother, said Boy Scouts is good for both of her sons. Her younger son Jackson is a member of Troop 60.

“The leaders do a great job of getting these boys out in the woods to camp and grow leadership skills,” she said. “The experiences he (Henry) has had really helped him grow into a responsible young man.”

Henry’s father Barron Stevenson said Boy Scouts is “really something he pursued and put his all into it, we’re fortunate he enjoyed it.”

Henry Stevenson said he’s thinks the Tut Hut project is “pretty cool.”

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