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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Local Scout project covered more than 1,800 Berlin homes

(Sept. 3, 2015) Residents and visitors in Berlin have likely seen the handiwork of 15-year-old Boy Scout Cole Norman.
Norman, along with his father and a handful of fellow Scouts, painted house numbers on the curbs outside nearly 2,000 homes in the community.
A Scout since the age of 6, Norman hoped the numbers would help emergency responders find the correct addresses more easily.
“I came up with the idea because I noticed our town needed it,” he said. “With emergency services, people’s lives depend on the time it takes to make it there. It could be a matter of seconds whether the person lives or dies and if the fire department has to look for street numbers, that could take away valuable time.”
The project began in late 2013 and took more than a year to complete. Initially he hoped to paint numbers on a small section of homes, but when he approached the Town Council for approval, they convinced him to broaden the scope of his project.
He sent flyers to each home, offering two-weeks’ notice and asking homeowners to contact him with questions or concern. He then created a custom stencil that could be rearranged to make each number.
One by one, he spray-painted numbers in front of each home that met certain height requirements.
“For me and my dad, who would usually go around and do the houses together, it probably took us five minutes or so to do each house,” he said. “We had to line up the stencils with the house and spray the numbers in three layers, white, reflective and black. It took about a year and 2,000 hours and by the end we had done 1,800 or so.”
Norman admitted the task ended up becoming much larger than he had anticipated.
“In my mind, when I first came up with the project, it was going to be small, very easy, very simple,” he said. “I thought it would take me maybe a month or so and it turned out to be a whole year of every weekend going and spraying curbs.
“It was very rewarding though,” he added. “It feels nice to see the work I accomplished and to hear the feedback from all the people they give me.”
The project helped Norman become an Eagle Scout and Berlin Mayor Gee Williams attended Norman’s swearing-in ceremony.
“He’s usually so busy that he has to send a representative,” he said. “I think since I came to Berlin and helped him do this whole project, he showed up. It was kind of cool to have a mayor at my ceremony.”
Williams said the numbers benefit not only emergency responders, but also add a level of “every day convenience.”
“We have so many guests in our town and folks who are relatives and friends who might not come to town frequently,” he said. “It’s got to be helping them as well.”
In the future, Williams said the town hopes to continue Norman’s work by offering community service credits to students at Stephen Decatur High School.
Today, Norman’s scouting involvement has taken him to the brotherhood-level member of the Order of the Arrow, which is essentially an honor society for Scouts. He’s currently participating in a 100-day campaign of helping others in conjunction with the order’s 100-year anniversary.
Norman also volunteers with the Berlin Fire Company and hopes to be a fire marshal.
“Ever since I was really little I wanted to be a policeman or be able to work a fire truck,” he said. “I can’t go on any calls because I’m not trained to do it yet, but hopefully sometime into the school year I’ll be able to go on some calls.”
He’s also hoping to expand Troop 225, based in Ocean City. When Norman joined, the troop it had roughly 60 members. Now that number has dropped to approximately 40.
“It’s a great troop and we do a lot of different things,” he said. “This year we’re going caving and I’ve done things like hiking the whole Appalachian Trail and I’m certified in scuba diving, thanks to the Scouts. The things we do are very rare. I think most people would love the experience.”
For more information on Troop 225, call 443-366-5882, email, or visit