The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

October 10, 2012

Business leaders urge MH citizens to get involved

MOUNT HOPE — At the Gateway to The Summit, people are starting to get down to brass tacks when it comes to the impact of the Boy Scouts of America’s development at their doorstep, and some are calling for locals to invest in their community.

At Mount Hope’s city council meeting on Tuesday, attendees heard from two business people who are organizing the community’s first Trade-O-Ree and Memorabilia Show, a nine-day event during next summer’s Jamboree featuring auctions of all the trappings of Boy Scout culture.

The event will take place at the Historic Mount Hope Municipal Stadium and is sponsored by the City of Mount Hope, Big Rock Publishing, and Bon-Bon’s Soda Shop of Mount Hope.

“We think we can be very instrumental and helpful in putting Mount Hope in the mind’s eye of people looking at Boy Scout activity here, and that they can associate the activity of the BSA with the town of Mount Hope,” says Richard Mori of Mori Books, who organizes region-wide Boy Scout trade events.

Which communities in the Raleigh-Fayette area will economically benefit most significantly from the new scout development has been a hotly debated topic of late.

“People are talking,” says Mori. “When the BSA announced plans to build this project here, the phrase they talked about was Beckley,” says Mori. “We’re starting to use the phrase Mt. Hope. We don’t use Beckley anymore. We’ve dropped that from our language.”

One attendee expressed reservation that the Jamboree participants would choose to go to Mount Hope over Beckley, but others in the room seemed to identify with a statement by the town’s mayor, Michael Martin.

“They are not going to be attracted to Mount Hope unless Mount Hope does something for itself,” he said at the meeting. “Mount Hope is the greatest town in the world,” says city recorder Michael Kessinger. “We are a barn find...We don’t want to lose Mount Hope in being someone else’s best.”

“But nobody’s going to come in here and clean this town up for us. If they do, I promise you it’s not going to be what we want. As business members in this community, now is the time to invest.”

Mori’s number one piece of advice to Mount Hope? Strengthen and re-invigorate the town’s scouting community.

“The simplest thing this town could do is...create a troop here that the town can showcase, because that’s your connection to the BSA.

“It’s more important than you can ever imagine to have that troop active and strong and doing things.

“Doing things,” he repeated.

“If you need to clean the town up, let’s get the scout master and the boys on Main Street and create a work project. Invite the media.”

“I have heard dozens of stories about Troop 91 and all of them are what happened in the troop in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s,” added Todd Kelly of Big Rock Publishing. “I haven’t heard as many stories about what happened in the ’90s (and after).”

Kelly and Mori work in what is known as the “3rd party collectibles market” associated with the BSA. They are one of a number of businesspeople who organize regional trade-o-ree weekends across the country that happen on varying scales practically every weekend of the year.

The Jamboree Trade-O-Ree will be among the biggest, showcasing about 75 vendors at 150-250 tables.

Details of the Memorabilia Show event are still forming, and Mori says they could include a street festival at night.

“They are going to close the (Summit) gate to the public at 5 p.m. every day. (Outside visitors) are going to have to go some place,” he says. “If we can pull in some percentage of that crowd away from the traffic flow each day, we do have to think in terms of an event.

“We’re talking about a tent of vendors — craft vendors — people from West Virginia who make things.”

Mori says it’s all about “bring(ing) the life of West Virginia to the people who are coming in from the outside.”

One way locals can plug into the event in the short term, say the men, is to get any collectibles they might have appraised or consign them. Down the road, they will be looking for people to work at the event in a volunteer capacity, selling tickets or setting up for the auctions. There may be some paid employment but plans for that are not finalized, says Kelly.

For more information, contact Mori Books at richard@moribooks.com or 603-732-0258 or Big Rock Publishing at todd@bigrockpubs.com or 404-441-3738.

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In other council business on Tuesday, the city received a monthly update on progress of a water line extension to The Summit. Zane Summerfield reports that more than 4,500 feet of line are now in the ground.

An invoice came in to the town for the project in the amount of $681,388.

Lesley Taylor of Region IV Planning and Development, which administers the funds for the water line extension, attended the meeting.

She also delivered an invoice for the city’s NSP3 Spot Demolition project for $13,783, and two invoices totaling $4,327 for the town’s planning efforts. The latter does not involve city funds and is being paid for by the Boy Scouts of America.

The city will soon launch a new website, which has been completely overhauled. Included on the new site are links to the city council, ordinances, meeting minutes, available land and real estate, and a discussion forum.

“Hopefully this will cause some legitimate discussion about the city and where it’s going,” says Leah Squires, Mount Hope’s Community Planning Coordinator.

September was a busy month at the Mount Hope Police Department, reports Chief Tom Peal, with eight arrests and 84 calls. Fifty calls would usually count for a busy month.

“There’s no real reason for it,” he says. “Nothing seemed to change. Something was in the air, I guess.”

— E-mail: cmoore@register-herald.com

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