By GREG JORDAN
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Next month thousands of Boy Scouts visiting southern West Virginia will take the opportunity to do good deeds for many communities.
Approximately 40,000 Boy Scouts are coming to Fayette County on July 17, 18, 19, 22 and 23 to attend the National Scout Jamboree at the new Summit Bechtel Reserve. Each scout is scheduled to perform at day of community service in one of nine southern West Virginia counties during the jamboree. Mercer and McDowell counties are among them, said Jeff Disibbio, Mercer County champion for the Boy Scouts.
Groups of 36 or more Boy Scouts will be assigned to perform a variety of tasks, Disibbio said. In Mercer County alone, 31 projects have been scheduled. Scouts will also provide their community services in neighboring McDowell County.
“Mercer County Schools really stepped up and requested a lot of projects to enhance their individual schools,” Disibbio said.
Plans call for the scouts to do landscaping work and other tasks at Mercer County Technical Education Center, Sun Valley Elementary, Athens Elementary, Brushfork Elementary, Whitethorn Elementary, PikeView High School and Middle School, Ceres School and other local schools.
In Sun Valley, scouts will help the Sun Valley Ruritan Club clean up the local community center’s parking lot and reseal the lot’s asphalt, Disibbio said.
Scouts will also work in the town of Athens, assist the Bluewell Improvement Council, Bramwell Presbyterian Church, the town of Bramwell, and build dog houses for the Prayers and Paws organization. The local United States Forestry Service plans to have the scouts help clean trails and work on benches.
“In Bramwell, they have four projects: restoration of a wrought iron fence, brush removal, installing signs and cleaning headstones in the cemetery,” Disibbio said.
Scout projects are also scheduled in Glenwood Park. They will be building four spur trails to connect with the Fisherman’s Walking Path, clearing existing trails, and attempting to help restore the historic cabin there. That project alone will include indoor painting, working on the cabin’s exterior, and installing a split rail fence.
At the Salvation Army in Princeton, the scouts will assemble playground equipment, landscape, repair a fence, do exterior and interior painting, move furniture, and paint the gym, Disibbio said. The Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce has arranged for a project to repair the brick wall at the East River Mountain Overlook. Scouts will also help build a gazebo at the Princeton-Mercer County Chamber of Commerce.
Scouts working with the city of Bluefield will be at projects in Lotito Park and outlying parks, he said. The work will include resurfacing the basketball court, repairing buildings, working on trails, and building stone barbecue grills.
More projects at the Princeton Recreation Department will include replacing city park guardrails, working on picnic tables, and repairing trash bins.
The overall Boy Scout projects could be one of the largest community service projects in the history of the nation, Disibbio said.
“We’re hoping this will be a template for all other future projects of this magnitude,” he added. “We’re hoping to accomplish a couple of objectives. Number one is to provide volunteers to help accomplish a variety of projects the local citizenry may not typically be able to address.”
The second objective is to introduce the region to scouts from across the nation.
“The scouts themselves will witness the wonder and beauty of the state of West Virginia, and take it back to their respective home or states, and hopefully that will increase tourism eventually and give us an economic benefit,” Disibbio stated.
Projects in neighboring McDowell County will have an educational aspect, said Matt Sutton of the Citizens Conservation Corps. Boy Scouts will learn about the history of each community they serve during the week.
“We’ve got 18 projects now in McDowell County,” Sutton said. “One of the projects is the John Ellison House and the living history of a coal community.”
In the town of Davy, scouts will paint at the town hall and perform other services. Scouts assigned to the Elkhorn Creek Watershed will clean dugouts, bleachers and scoreboards at a baseball field. At Anawalt Lake, scouts will clear brush and pour concrete paths to benches overlooking the lake. Scouts in Gary will clean up the Number 10 Cemetery and work at the city park. Another project at the McDowell County Humane Society includes installing an outdoor kennel.
“They will be doing cleanups and adding nice touches wherever they can,” Sutton said.
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org