The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Breaking News

Latest News

July 15, 2013

All running smoothly as Scouts converge on the Summit

Finding enough troopers to keep things running smoothly and securely at the Boy Scouts Jamboree posed no problem for West Virginia State Police Superintendent Jay Smithers.

For many, it was a simple matter in life of moving from a tan-and-green uniform in one’s halcyon youth to one of forest green in adulthood.

“Actually, we’ve got a lot of former Scouts, and several Eagle Scouts, who became troopers,” Smithers said Monday, as some 800 busloads of youngsters converged into a staging area at Bradley for the start of the 10-day Jamboree.

“We had a lot of volunteers for this detail. It wasn’t an issue to get folks to commit themselves to this. Hopefully, we’ll have a good time as well as the Boy Scouts themselves.”

Scouting wasn’t an option in Smithers’ boyhood hometown, so he never filled out a uniform.

“If I had had the opportunity, I would have been there,” the State Police superintendent said.

“I’m a farm boy. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it.”

Smithers expects to have a contingent of 60 troopers at the Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve over the entire event, and, on days when added security is needed — such as the Saturday night concert and fireworks show — their ranks could be swelled by an extra 25.

As traffic grew visibly heavier with buses rolling in from coast-to-coast, Smithers’ officers were beefed up with 36 troopers from Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia under a mutual agreement with the Department of Public Safety.

Fuel and overtime costs for the out-of-state officers will be borne by the state.

“When we put the requests out for some assistance, they jumped on board real quick,” Smithers said.

Traffic control is one consideration, but so is security, which explains why troopers will maintain a 24/7 presence throughout the event.

“We hope everything goes very well,” Smithers said.

“We put a lot of work into this for months and months and months. Depending on how things go, we may be able to relax and release some of those troopers from time to time. This is the first one, so it’s a big learning curve for us, of course.”

Smithers has never seen anything of this magnitude in West Virginia, although there have been times when an extraordinary number of troopers were pressed into duty for extended periods.

“Those issues were completely different — mine strikes, flood details, that type of thing,” he said.

“This is a completely different animal for us.”

Smithers described as “adequate” the overall security detail at the Glen Jean complex.

“We certainly don’t want to send a message that it’s a lockdown facility, even though it’s tightly secure,” he said.

“Part of it is open to the public. It should be a win-win for everybody.”

As needed, some officers will likely be working in plainclothes, which is standard procedure in providing security, the superintendent said.

Smithers hopes to tear away from his duties in Charleston to visit the Scouts summit before the festival closes out July 25.

“Life goes on here,” he said. “Somebody has to stay here and mind the store.”

If security is as smooth as the traffic ran opening day, Smithers should have few worries.

Many shuddered at the prospect of hundreds of buses filled with Scouts creating a major snarl in the Bradley area, but nothing on that order had occurred by early afternoon, said Gary Hartley, a Scouting spokesman.

By mid-morning, some 265 buses had wheeled into a staging area, the final leg before heading to the reserve, “from all over the country,” Hartley said.

“Everything is going smoothly,” he said.

“The roads are all open. No roads are shut down. There are no traffic accidents. No backups or tie-ups. Everything is going fine. Traffic on 19 is wide open.”

Upwards of 40,000 scouts are expected for the event, and if opening day traffic control is a barometer, it appears to be smooth sailing.

Bobby Palmer, assistant chief of the Bradley-Prosperity Volunteer Fire Department, got up at 4 a.m. to muster his men and equipment, placing rescue vehicles and engines strategically around the area.

“We’ve actually got fire trucks staged all round Bradley, scattered throughout, providing coverage,” Palmer said.

“That way, if I need to get a truck in a hurry to a certain point I can get them there without having to sit in traffic congestion. So far, it’s going a lot smoother than we expected it to. The troopers are doing a really good job with it. And there is some military out there, too. There hasn’t been a single incident, which is a good thing.”

Palmer expects to have his entire department on standby, but not actually out in the strategic areas, except for what he considers the three biggest days — the opening, the Saturday night concert and fireworks show, and closing day.

“What people don’t realize is, they see our fire trucks out and we’re doing all this coverage protection, that all my guys are volunteers,” the assistant chief said.

Palmer said the fireworks extravaganza looms as the biggest show in West Virginia, based on the application on file with the state fire marshal’s office.

“It’s to be a 20-minute show,” he said.

“Well over 300 shots per minute. It’s supposed to be spectacular.”

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest News
  • Alpha announces intention to lay off 1,100 surface miners

    Alpha Natural Resources said Thursday it expects to lay off 1,100 workers at 11 southern West Virginia surface coal mines by mid-October, citing dismal markets and federal regulation.

    The announcement dealt another blow to Appalachia's iconic, but dwindling, fossil fuel industry. The company said 2015 industry forecasts show Central Appalachian coal production will be less than half of its 2009 output.

    It's due to a combination of familiar factors, Alpha said: competition from cheaper natural gas, weak domestic and international markets and low coal prices.

     

    July 31, 2014

  • Justice mines have violations in 5 states

    A West Virginia coal billionaire has more than 250 pending violations at mining operations in Kentucky and four other states.

    July 31, 2014

  • VA Greenbrier clinic to remain closed

    The Department of Veterans Affairs Greenbrier County Community Based Outpatient Clinic will remain closed due to ongoing correction of environmental concerns. 

    July 31, 2014

  • prezarrested.jpg Protesters arrested at UMWA Rally in Pittsburgh

    After marching from the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to the William S. Moorehead Federal Building in downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, around 15 United Mine Workers of America (UMW) leaders were arrested.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • Mercer shooting sends one to hospital

     One person has been shot following an apparent altercation in the Montcalm area of Mercer County.

    July 31, 2014

  • UMWA1.jpg More than 5,000 protesting new EPA rules at rally

    Today, 73 buses will bring miners and UMW members to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for a labor rally and march through downtown Pittsburgh.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Kroger restricts pseudoephedrine sales in state

    Supermarket chain Kroger is tightening monthly purchase limits of cold medications that contain pseudoephedrine at its West Virginia stores.

    July 31, 2014

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander. Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoys."

    July 31, 2014

  • legion American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32. INCLUDES TOUT VIDEO.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers? Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo