Aaron McCain -- lighting the way to Eagle Scout rank

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Aaron McCain -- lighting the way to Eagle Scout rankRemember that big gorgeous lighted star on B Mountain during the holidays? The historic star that was facing extinction when Ridgecrest pulled together to finance its restoration? Aaron McCain is the Boy Scout who helped get the ball rolling to rescue a beloved tradition here in the Indian Wells Valley and get that worn-out star back into service.

Aaron, 17, described how he got the idea.

“Last spring I was looking for an Eagle Scout project. I saw my scoutmaster at Denny’s one day, and he said, ‘The B Mountain Star needs to get fixed or they’ll just tear it down.’”

So Aaron called the Public Affairs Office at China Lake and was directed to the Chief Petty Officers Association. From there, he met Charles Grandin, who was his main contact and mentor from the base.

In between working on designs, Aaron spoke to the Ridgecrest Exchange Club.

“They did the press releases and handled the money,” he said. Exchange Club member Andy Anderson spearheaded the club’s efforts.

Funds collected have since been earmarked for the star’s maintenance and future replacement and will be managed by the club.

Exchange also contributed what turned out to be a brilliant idea. “They directed me to Darryl Grace of FedCon South Bay, and Bob Dickson of R.E.D. Electric,” said Aaron. Grace and Dickson “came up with the final design and ordered all the materials.

“It cost $50,000, but they paid for all of it. If they hadn’t done that, the star probably wouldn’t have gone up when it did and wouldn’t look as good.”

Aaron and a group of friends and advisors went to the site, and put in many hours helping clear it so it was ready for the electricians. Once the new wiring and structure were installed professionally, the Scouts went back up.

“We carried stuff up the mountain, and screwed in all the light bulbs. That took a while — there were 390 of them. We put all the wire cages over the bulbs. Then one wire had to be fixed.”

On Dec. 9 an evening ceremony was held on Lone Butte (the official name of B Mountain) to officially turn on the electricity to the newly refurbished Star. Aaron was there.

“It looked really, really good. I’ve had countless comments from people saying how much they liked having the star lit up again,” said Aaron.

To complete the requirements for his Eagle Scout rank, he still has some paperwork to complete and two more merit badges to earn.

“One badge is for personal fitness. That requires three months of a fitness plan. I’m a week and a half away from finishing that. The other is for citizenship in the community. I have a couple of things to finish up on that. I anticipate having it all done by the end of February. That’s my goal,” he said.

Aaron was born and reared here in Ridgecrest. His mother works at Pierce Elementary School, which he attended. His middle school years were spent at Murray Middle School, and now he is in his senior year at Burroughs High School as a straight A student.

He plans to go to a four-year college here in California, but is waiting to make the final decision on which one. “The acceptance letters are still out,” he said. He plans to study mechanical engineering.

Story First Published: 2013-02-06