By Mannix Porterfield
Not all of the numbers are in, but it looks as if some $500,000 in West Virginia resources were plowed into last month’s mammoth Boy Scouts Jamboree — way below what Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s staff figured such assistance would cost.
Overall, Tomblin’s staff had counted on pouring some $1.6 million worth of resources to keep things running smoothly at the 10-day event at the Summit Bechtel Family Scout Reserve near Glen Jean.
While the cost of overtime pay for the State Police, including 36 troopers from four states recruited to beef up West Virginia forces, hasn’t been turned in, the actual cost so far for everything spent by state agencies was $413,289.77.
That means the state witnessed a savings of $1,227,269.46.
And the good news for taxpayers?
None of that cost is coming from their pockets, Becky Neal, an executive aide to Tomblin, emphasized Monday.
“This is not a cost to the state, due to the fact that all costs, once collected, will be submitted to the Boy Scouts for reimbursement, as with any private event,” Neal said.
“The Boy Scouts agreed to this since it was never done before to help offset the costs to the state. We came in well under the figure.”
The jury is still out on the final State Police figures, which will embrace the costs of troopers supplied by Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Virginia.
Neal said Tomblin allowed the National Guard to contract with the University of Charleston for lodging.
As a result, the original estimate in that area was $87,246, but in reality totaled $296,048, or $208,802 more.
The staff had figured on spending $1,117,226 for Guard pay and benefits but was far less, at $68,120.66, for a savings of $1,049,105.34. Nor was there any change in the projected cost by the fire marshal’s office of $10,400.
A projected cost of $42,356.07 for the Department of Homeland Security turned out to be only $8,854, so the administration realized a savings of $33,502.07. The staff had projected a cost of $5,164.16, and that was unchanged.
Without dispute, the Boy Scouts event spurred some momentary economic jolts, and not just in the vicinity around Fayette and Raleigh counties, said Amy Shuler Goodwin, Tomblin’s communications director.
“It was incredible,” she said.
Judging from talks with interests from across the state, including Chamber of Commerce officials, the economic thrust was felt nearly everywhere.
“It wasn’t just a southern West Virginia economic hit,” Goodwin said.
“These kids traveled in from all different parts of the state. Yes, the local area received the biggest kind of bang for their buck, if you will — the shops, the restaurants, the hotels. But some of these boys came into the state, stayed here, came early, left late, and used a lot of our state parks, too. It was a monumental event. Only time will tell as the years go on, the increase.”
She quoted the National Telecommunications Information Administration as calling it “the most well-received, large-scale event” they ever witnessed.
“It’s a different breed of Boy Scouts out there,” Goodwin said, pointing to the high-tech dimension that characterizes this generation.
“Technology was needed for this event so much more than we’ve ever needed in the past. Every kid had a cell phone. You put them in a remote area, and we needed to have constant communications that would not fail. A lot of time and resources actually were put into that. It was such a huge success.”
Next year, the Scouts plan to return to Glen Jean for a series of high adventure camps, with participants arriving in intervals summer long. Which means the state likely will be involved again.
Goodwin said it was important that the state pitch in for this first-ever Jamboree to assure the Scouts were safe and had instant access to medical services, if needed.
“No matter what, as we move forward, we need to be involved,” she said.
“We need to be engaged.”
One intangible, not measured in dollars and cents, was the smooth arrivals and departures, none of them creating any traffic snarls.
“It worked seamless because we had a lot of folks involved,” Goodwin said.
Neal attributed the crisis-free event to a concentrated strategy involving the National Guard, state agencies and some federal entities as well.
“All came together in a collaborative effort to make sure this all went there so quickly and so professionally and no one ever realized we were on site,” Neal added.