By Wendy Holdren
A Boy Scouts of America representative joined the quarterly meeting of Southern West Virginia Preparedness Partnership Wednesday at the Raleigh County Commission on Aging.
Gary Hartley, director of community and government relations for the Summit Bechtel Reserve, came to discuss the impact that the Scouts’ arrival will have on the region.
Kevin Taylor, director of emergency services for the city of Beckley, said they are always trying to focus on the interests of the community.
“Right now, there is nothing more interesting to the community than the Boy Scouts of America.”
Hartley explained that the area is already seeing benefits from the Scouts, such as the addition of 10 cell phone towers, bringing 3G service to many.
“It’s a permanent home for the Jamboree and it will bring with it long-term improvements.”
The National Jamboree will be hosted in July this year, again in 2017 and a world Jamboree in 2019.
“I’ve worked big projects across the country,” Hartley said. “But I have to say, this is the biggest.”
He said the project got started back in 2009 when the Scouts were gearing up for their next Jamboree.
After some issues with using a military base, Fort AP Hill in Virginia, as a Jamboree site, they decided the time had come to seek a permanent location.
With the 100th year of Scouting upon them, they decided this was the direction they wanted to take the Boy Scouts of America.
Eagle Scout Stephen Bechtel and his wife made a $50 million donation to the project and the national search began to find a Jamboree location.
Hartley said 28 different states were involved in the search, and West Virginia made the cut each time as the options were narrowed from 40, to 20, to 10, to five, and the final three choices were in Arkansas, Virginia and West Virginia.
Ultimately, the 10,600 acres lying between Beckley and Fayetteville were chosen, not only for the beautiful land, but for the major highways surrounding the location.
“This is a tremendous location of the national Jamboree,” Hartley said.
He noted that West Virginia is located within 500 miles of 65 percent of the U.S. population, including cities like Chicago and New York.
“The Boy Scouts of America has a reach in every county in every state of the entire country,” he said, which has the potential of being huge for the Mountain State.
He then played a video, created by residents of Fayetteville, illustrating the adventures that await the eager Scouts.
Hartley said he anticipates the impact for our region will be great.
For more information about the Summit Bechtel Reserve, visit www.summit.scouting. org.
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