By Wendy Holdren
The West Virginia National Guard has set up shop at the University of Charleston-Beckley campus for the duration of the Boy Scouts Jamboree, hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.
Lt. Col. David Lester, public affairs officer for the West Virginia National Guard, said they have coordinated with the Department of Forestry, Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and national organizations to ensure the Jamboree is safe and secure.
“We have folks on standby, from medical command to security to logistics and even an aviation task force,” Lester said.
“It’s a joint effort to address any issues that may come up.”
UC-Beckley President Dr. Jerry Forster said he was contacted in August last year by the National Guard and state agencies who thought the campus would support the logistics well.
“UC is always a good partner with the National Guard,” Forster said.
“In this case, with the Jamboree, we were pleased that the campus was located near the Bechtel Reserve. We’re pleased to provide our facilities and glad the Jamboree is almost here.”
Lester said the National Guard was thankful for the facilities, especially the dorms, as most of the Guard is used to sleeping in tents.
“This is a great opportunity for the state of West Virginia and the Beckley area. We have 325 on site who will be visiting local establishments and could provide a positive local economic impact.”
Lester said the past Jamborees have been at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, so being in West Virginia has been a learning opportunity.
“It has presented us with an opportunity to think outside the box.”
The last time Lester was at the Summit was back in April when the site was still under construction, but he has talked to some Boy Scout leaders recently who say they feel like they’re driving into Jurassic Park — “It’s awe-inspiring.”
“This is a great story of community support from the University of Charleston and Beckley to work, operate and make this a success. We are very appreciative of that support.”
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