Webcam added to Marine Museum Web site as result of Boy Scout's Eagle project
By CARL E. FEATHER
Fishermen, boaters, lake freighter watchers and Web-surfing insomniacs have a new tool and toy on the Ashtabula Lakefront.
A Web camera installed on the east side of The Great Lakes Marine & Coast Guard Memorial Museum (Ashtabula Marine Museum), 1071 Walnut St., provides views of the lighthouse/lakefront, coal dock, Ohio Department of Natural Resources building, Ashtabula River and lift bridge at the click of a mouse. The camera is accessed through the Marine Museum Web site, www.ashtabulamarinemuseum.org.
The Web cam is the Eagle Scout project of Kingsville resident Andrew T. Kaba, a 2006 Edgewood Senior High School graduate. He raised the $2,600 required to purchase and install the camera and coordinated the various services and technologies required to get the camera online.
The son of Dave and Cheryl Kaba, Andrew has been in Scouting since first grade. Troop 11 Scoutmaster Joe Mills said Kaba is one of three Scouts in the troop of 32 working on Eagle Scout projects. That rate is double the national for Scouting. He credits the dedication of parents the troop's leadership.
Kaba, 18, will soon start a six-year enlistment in the National Guard, where he plans to work in the area of supply management. With that commitment looming, Kaba was under a lot of pressure to wrap up his Eagle Scout project this summer.
It all came together Monday evening, when Kaba and Marine Museum officials unveiled the camera to a full house of Scouts, parents, museum officials and dignitaries. Larry DeGeorge of Security Technologies, which provided the camera installation, demonstrated the it for the audience.
"It's quite a powerful camera," DeGeorge said. "Andy picked one of the most expensive cameras. We have the capabilities to produce live video."
The camera is housed in a protective, climate-controlled case. DeGeorge's company will maintain the installation, which is about 30 feet above ground level.
The Web cam is accessible 24 hours a day and has low-light capabilities. Condensation and snow accumulation should not be issues because the housing maintains a constant climate for the instrument, said Kaba.
During his portion of the presentation, Kaba explained that the practical application for a Webcam is to give lake users who live outside the area the ability to view local weather and lake conditions.
"Seventy percent of boaters (who use the local marine facilities) do not live in Ashtabula," Kaba told the audience. "That's a long way to come, considering that the price of gas has gone up."
Kaba said he was looking for an Eagle Scout project when he started talking with Bob Frisbie, assistant director of the museum, about that organization's new Web site. Geary Consulting and Mountain Internet developed the site for the museum, but a Web cam was not part of the original design. The concept came from DeGeorge, who pledged his support if a Boy Scout wanted to take on the task as an Eagle Scout project.
Frisbie praised Kaba's perseverance in making this dream come true. The Boy Scouts of America Council, which had to approve the project, did so with some reservations because of the expense involved. Kaba says it was difficult raising money in the winter months, because many of the obvious tourism-related businesses were closed.
Upon graduating from high school, he learned his grandfather had been saving money for his college expenses, and Kaba decided to use that money for his Eagle Scout project. Kaba said the National Guard will foot his college bill. However, he also continued his fund-raising and eventually supplanted his college education nest egg with those funds.
"The thing that really helped me was I had a couple of businesses donate several hundred dollars each," he says.
Contributors of money and /or time to the project included Security Technologies, Mountain Internet, Windstream Communications, the museum, Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, Ashtabula Port Authority, Ashtabula Office Equipment, Basic Ingredients, Capital Choice Financial Services, Dixon Greenwood, Growth Partnership for Ashtabula County, Harbor Merchants Association, Hattie Grubke, Hil-Mak's Restaurant, Kister Marina, Lakeview Federal Credit Union, Ashtabula Nassief, Ohio Department of Natural Resources-Division of Watercraft, St. Joseph Church, Ashtabula County Commissioners' Christy Fund, The Riverfront Trader, Judy L. Meier's Parlor on the Park, Medicine Shoppe, Dale Wisnyai and Boy Scouts Troop 11.
Kaba brought demonstrated his leadership capabilities in the process of bringing service providers on board with help from the museum officials. Windstream Communications donated a DSL Tier 1 line and router for the project. Several Scouts from Troop 11, Andy's father and Faith Hotovec donated their time to wire the DSL line in the museum with help from Windstream and Assistant Director Glenn Beagle. DeGeorge and his assistant Dale Wisnyai worked to install, test and program the camera.
DeGeorge said they are still fine-tuning the camera and software. One of the issues is beyond their control; a huge pile of coal is blocking the view to the lake and lighthouse; the pile is supposed to be relocated later this year.
Camera users may find that their view is suddenly changed while on the site, the result of another user jumping on and switching the view. DeGeorge says that's an issue that will have to be worked out through the software settings.
First-time users of the camera will need to download a small piece of software onto their computer. Once that's loaded, they won't have to repeat the process on subsequent visits.
Ashtabula County Commissioner Joseph Moroski, who presented a proclamation from the commissioners, said the camera is one more component in building the county's tourism and recreation industry. "It's a health and safety thing," Moroski said.
Frisbie said the camera brings the museum's function full circle. Built in 1871 as quarters for the lighthouse keeper's family, the building's location provided a panorama of the lakefront and harbor, a view that contributed to the safety of the mariners and dock workers.
"They had something in the early days that we have here now with the camera," Frisbie said. "We're kind of going back in time with something we've done before."