The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 11, 2012

State’s Division of Homeland Security to coordinate Jamboree

By C.V. Moore
The Register-Herald

— GLEN JEAN — Another milestone in preparations for the 2013 National Scout Jamboree is now crossed. On Friday, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed an executive order aimed at ensuring that all runs safely and smoothly during the fast-approaching event.

The order designates the West Virginia Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management as the principal coordinator for federal, state and local agencies providing support for the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve before and during the Jamboree.

“We’re here today to see to it that the Scouts enjoy the Summit in a safe and secure manner, just as we here in West Virginia would provide for our own families and friends,” Tomblin told representatives from the National Guard, Boy Scouts of America, and local government who gathered at the Glen Jean Armory for the signing of the order.

Tomblin said the “insta-city” created by the Jamboree will put unique demands on local communities. Among other things, he hopes this measure will provide help to local agencies in the lead-up and execution of the event.

Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Jimmy Gianato will serve as the governor’s point person on Summit-related endeavors involving the state. Gianato said a joint inter-agency task force of key federal, state and local agencies will support the “monumental” 2013 event.

He said the task force is working on building communications infrastructure, increasing capacity for cell coverage, and working with hospitals to ensure they are prepared for a major event.

“We’ll try to plan for every contingency, and hope for the best,” he told The Register-Herald.

The executive order also said that the state Homeland Security division, within 60 days, will provide a “financial impact statement outlining the needs that ... agencies will have in order to provide the proper support for a successful event.”

The upcoming Jamboree will be the first in many years not held on an active military base. An estimated 50,000 scouts will attend the Jamboree, along with their families and other visitors. Some locals are describing the event as “Bridge Day for 14 days in a row.”

Tomblin said he expects several thousand National Guard from West Virginia and across the country on the ground during the Jamboree “in case of an attack ... or health crisis.”

Gianato also said the Jamboree serves as a recruiting tool for the military, which will set up displays and equipment during the event.

BSA Assistant Chief Scout Executive Alf Tuggle told those gathered that the BSA could ask for “no better ally” than the state of West Virginia.

“I feel safer already,” Tuggle said. “This coordination will provide for the safety ... of our guests and participants while ensuring efficient use of state and local resources.”

Mount Hope Police Chief Thomas Peal said he recently visited Fort AP Hill, Virginia, to talk to local law enforcement about their experience during past Jamborees. Among other things, he said he learned that he will need to attend to the many vendors who will show up for the Jamboree selling souvenirs and other items.

Fayette County Commission President Matthew Wender said he remembers sitting in the same room over two years ago as the Summit project was launched and thinking that 2013 seemed very far off indeed.

“What seemed an eternity away then is now right on our doorstep,” he said.

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com