Mercedes goes silver, drives for gold

Burns Girl Scout wins award after restoring gazebo


Zachary Laux

Mercedes Bartels poses with her father Jeff Bartels in front of the Burns gazebo. Mercedes, with the help of several volunteers and businesses, restored the Burns gazebo with a fresh coat of paint to earn her Silver Award in the Girl Scouts.

A Burns Girl Scout will receive her Silver Award Aug. 6 after she helped restore the town's gazebo, a point of pride for Burns.

"The Town is thankful that she came forward with this project because the gazebo was in dire need of attention," said the girl's grandfather and Burns Town Council member Ralph Bartels.

Mercedes Bartels, along with the help and support of family, friends, three Girls Scout Troops and one Cub Scout Troop, started restoring the Burns gazebo July 18 by applying a fresh coat of paint. Volunteers finished up the project July 20, but Mercedes said she put in nine months of planning before restoration even began. Mercedes selected to restore the town gazebo because it is a point of pride in the community.

"I saw the gazebo needed all of this and I told myself 'This project is good' because we use the gazebo for Burns Day and we hold community functions here and we should be able to show this off," Mercedes said.

Before Mercedes showed attention to the gazebo, the structure sat with faded paint and splintering wood.

"The colors that were on it before were really stripping and the wood was starting to deteriorate because the paint wasn't there to protect it," she said.

Thanks to donations from several businesses, and the help from several volunteers, the gazebo now sits with a fresh coat of paint.

Wyoming Bank and Trust donated money for the project. Napa Auto Parts donated sand paper and tape. Lewis Auto Body donated the spray guns. the town of Burns provided all of the paint. King Soopers donated food.

Mercedes has been in the Girl Scouts for about a year. She joined because it will present opportunities for her in the future, she said, including getting into a good college.

"This is going to allow me to move ahead and do the things I want to do," she said. "This is going to be on my application for colleges."

Mercedes' college of choice – the Air Force Academy.

Mercedes has always wanted to be in the Air Force, said her mother Lyssa Bartels.

"They had to pick a career as a class project when she was 6, and she came home that day and said 'Mom, I want to be a pilot in the Air Force. I want to fly the fast planes,'" Lyssa said.

But Mercedes didn't choose to be in the Air Force on her own. She had plenty of influence from her grandfather who served in the Air Force during the Korean War.

"My grandfather would tell me how he would walk the run ways and about the big planes they would fly, and all his stories he told me pointed to one thing – 'This is awesome. I want to do it,'" she said.

Mercedes' next step in the Girl Scouts is to earn her Gold Award. But she still has about a year before she is qualified, she said. But Mercedes already has some ideas for what it will be, although she would not share them with the Pine Bluffs Post.

"I want to make it a surprise," she said.


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