The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

July 23, 2013

Scouts complete projects in Wyoming County

By Mary Catherine Brooks
Wyoming County Bureau Chief

THE SUMMIT — Moving in tandem, Boy Scout Troop D207, of California, worked alongside an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) team at the Mullens Opportunity Center Tuesday.

The Scouts were building picnic tables that will be placed at the campsites, and the picnic areas, behind the center.

While the NCCC members assisted with the picnic table project, they also wheeled wheelbarrows of cement to complete a 120-foot handicap ramp that will allow visitors access to the Guyandotte River, which flows behind what was once the grade school building in Mullens.

Visitors with physical limitations may use their wheelchairs to fish, to picnic or just sit by the water, according to Dewey Houck, director of Rural Appalachian Improvement League (RAIL).

The complete campground project has been in the making for nearly two years and now boasts 10 sites with electricity, water and sewage services, Houck said.

Three primitive campsites will sit on the banks of the river, he said.

Additionally, the new ramp provides easy access to the Guyandotte and a hiking trail is also under construction.

“Local people are taking advantage of this already,” Houck said of the campground. “We’ve had some who’ve rented a month at a time.”

Nearly 200 Scouts have participated and signed the “RAIL board,” with every state represented on the board.

“Everybody that works on this project signs the board,” Houck emphasized.

He also noted that AmeriCorps NCCC teams from years past have signed the various projects that have added to the numerous services offered at the MOC, including the outdoor stage for community events and the museum exhibiting the area’s coal and rail history.

Additionally, the Scouts worked to create river access on W.Va. 10, between Mullens and Pineville, on a 3-acre roadside park that will be developed by RAIL, Houck noted.

Houck lauded his volunteers, most notably Gary Runion, who designed all the projects at the center and supervised construction.

He also complimented Charlene Cook, who works with all the teams, the volunteers, and mans the center daily.

“We’ve got about 35 volunteers and they all do a fantastic job,” Houck emphasized.

Houck said none of the projects would have been possible without the assistance of the AmeriCorps teams and volunteers.

“There’s no way we would have finished these projects without the help of the Scouts,” he said.

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“Mission accomplished,” emphasized Christy Laxton of the Scouts’ community service initiative in Wyoming County.

Laxton serves as one of two county co-champions for the five-day initiative that included nearly 30 community service projects across the county in conjunction with the Boy Scouts’ first 10-day national Jamboree at the Summit, in Fayette County.

“Overall, it has gone extremely well in Wyoming County,” Laxton noted. “Our project managers have been ready for the Scouts. Our materials have been there.

“The Scouts have done a fabulous job. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the Scouts.

Between 8 and 10:30 a.m. each of the five days, it was hectic, Laxton explained.

“Getting the buses here, then getting them where they were supposed to be ... But, after that, everything went smooth,” she said.

“We had only minor things,” she said, “and no serious injuries.”

Over the five days, Wyoming County has had about 3,040 Scouts and their leaders along with at least one AmeriCorps NCCC team in the county working alongside the Scouts.

“We’ve had tremendous support from the community,” Laxton said.

Several businesses and several area churches have provided lunches or other treats for the Scouts.

“The Scouts that are working near the road have had people blow their horns and say out the window, ‘Thank you for what you’re doing.’

“They’ve been amazed by our coal tipples and our history,” Laxton said.

Two of the troops have gone home with coal samples provided by one of the companies.

“All the work and all the frustration of the last year-and-a-half have been well worth it,” Laxton emphasized.

“We’ve been told that if this is to happen again, Wyoming County will be the model.”

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