For Cole Larsen, 18, woodworking has been an escape from his daily academic schedule. Now, his talent has afforded him a unique part in the dedication of the new Payson Utah Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Larsen handmade 10 wooden coat racks for his Eagle Scout project that will be used on Sunday, June 7, to hold the jackets and other personal items of LDS Church leaders and guests involved in the temple’s dedication sessions. After dedication day, the racks will remain in the temple’s administrative offices.
“My wood shop class relaxes me and gets me away from academics," said Larsen, son of Wayne and Wendy Larsen of Santaquin. "I thought this was a pretty cool project to do."
Cole Larsen said he started on the project in February after his Eagle coach, Kepi Heimuli of Payson, told him about the need at the temple. Cole Larsen gathered pine two-by-fours and four-by-fours and began the cutting process. Then he recruited volunteers to help sand off the rough edges. Next came making the decorative tops and then staining, again with the help of friends, family and other Scouts.
The Payson High School senior also added a small plaque to each coat rack to commemorate the dedication date. The engraving of the date, temple name and “Holiness to the Lord” on each of the plaques was donated by a local business. The whole process took about three weeks.
Heimuli said he’d been helping Larsen search for possible Eagle projects when he found out about the need for coat racks at the Payson Temple. Whatever the project, Heimuli wanted it to be meaningful and something the teen would always remember. The coat racks fit both categories.
“Cole pounced on the idea," Heimuli said. "He was all over it and followed through with everything. He asked me about putting a plaque on them and I told him he was running things and I was at his mercy.”
A future psychology major at Utah State University, Larsen is no stranger to creating projects out of wood. During his three years in wood shop, he’s built an over-sized night stand, a five-drawer dresser, a 12-drawer dresser, a coffee table and a hope chest. Each of these treasures has taught him to value fine craftsmanship.
“When I toured the temple, I paid close attention to all the wood because that’s what I like," Larsen said. "It’s very beautiful.”
Heimuli has seen good projects, not-so good projects and everything in between. He said Larsen’s project stands out from many others.
“That’s what every Eagle project should be — something meaningful to the boy for the rest of his life," Heimuli said. "And for an 18-year-old kid to have a part in the temple opening is amazing. It’s a real victory for Cole and it will give him an excuse to always want to go to the temple.”
Lana Hiskey is the public affairs chairwoman for the Payson Utah Temple dedication.