By Steve Keenan
FAYETTE COUNTY —
A visiting Boy Scout troop based in a city that boasts a little bit of history itself toiled Thursday to help a West Virginia town showcase some of its rich, local history.
As part of the Reaching The Summit Community Service Initiative — a combined effort of the Boy Scouts of America and the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia during the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree — Boy Scout Troop B424, of Plymouth, Mass., was in Thurmond to perform a variety of tasks.
Their projects included resurfacing and placing bricks on a sidewalk that runs adjacent to the railroad tracks in the vicinity of the Thurmond Post Office, trail building, painting and creating a garden for the town hall.
The bricks which Scouts are putting in place during the community service initiative are engraved either for memorial or family purposes or to highlight the town’s rich history, while some are blank.
Earlier this year, town leaders announced the sidewalk project as a means to create an educational walk by highlighting significant dates and events from the town’s past on engraved bricks.
Among those are the year 1873, in which W.D. Thurmond acquired 73 acres on the banks of the New River; 1903, the year in which Thurmond was incorporated; and 1968, when the first commercial whitewater rafting trip in West Virginia was taken.
Chad McCune, one of the brick project leaders, said much progress was made Thursday.
“Our hope is to get the bulk of the sidewalk finished Friday,” he said Thursday evening. “The trail (and the town hall work) should be complete (Friday).”
About 40 Scouts per day for a three-day period will have worked on the Thurmond project, he said.
“It’s really been pleasant working with those kids,” McCune said. “We didn’t really know what we were going to get.
“They hit the ground running.”
Besides accomplishing the projects, he said, the Scouts also “get some history of a town like Thurmond. They learned history as they installed the bricks.”
And, they get a pride in seeing what they’ve accomplished, and maybe some will return to the area in the future to show their families the work they did, he added. “They’ll remember this, I’m sure.”
Thursday’s efforts also included work on both the exterior and interior of Thurmond Town Hall. One of the Troop B424 Scouts performing the latter tasks was Burak Laciner, who has relished his Jamboree experience in West Virginia thus far.
“I think it’s a great experience and builds character for young people,” Laciner said in describing his thoughts on the community service initiative. Yesterday’s aim was to “beautify town hall for the people of Thurmond.”
During his stay in the Mountain State, Laciner says, “I hope to meet new people and make myself a better Scout and a better person overall.”
And he thinks he’s got a great place in which to do that. Calling the area “absolutely breathtaking,” he added, “The scenery is beautiful and the people are so kind.”
A delegation of nearly 20 Scouts and their leaders ventured into Oak Hill Thursday to complete their portion of the Reaching The Summit Community Service Initiative. And they were a little far from home, which happens to be St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Scouts spent the better part of Thursday at the Historic Oak Hill School, a Southern Appalachian Labor School endeavor, placing primer and preparing for a finishing coat of paint today by another group.
Then, Scouts, volunteers and YouthBuild workers will be able to place ceiling and floor tiles on the building’s second floor, said Ralph Shockey Jr., a SALS YouthBuild trainer whose five-person crew also assisted Thursday.
Shockey was glad to get the aid.
“It’s helping us by getting the second floor ready for ceiling and floor tiles,” he said. “This is a great group, and they’re doing a great service to the community.”
One of the Russian group’s leaders, Arthur Grigoriev, briefly explained that some of his group had connected with Scouts from Connecticut at a Jamboree in Scotland, and they began their first trip to the United States earlier this summer by visiting for a few days in Connecticut before venturing further south, including a stop in Gettysburg, Pa., and making their way to West Virginia for the Jamboree.
“It is great,” he said of the time spent in West Virginia. Of particular interest have been “the zip and the water activities.” “Also, we like very much the rifles,” he added.
The Russians plan to visit New York after the Jamboree concludes.
Folks driving or walking in the vicinity of City Park in Oak Hill Thursday saw a group of Boy Scouts and their leaders battling the heat and humidity and joining with members of the Woodland Oaks Garden Club to perform landscaping chores along the White Oak Rail Trail.
About 40 members and leaders of Troop C418, of Allentown, Pa., helped plant forsythia and rhododendron along the trail from Collinwood Acres to Allman Street, according to Woodland Oaks member Loretta Lively.
“They’ve been absolutely wonderful workers,” said Lively. “They’ve been polite.
“And they didn’t mind getting in there and doing the work.”
“Those kids worked and they did a wonderful job,” said Sadie Brash, Woodland Oaks past president and chairman of the club’s Reaching The Summit Community Service Initiative project.
Club member Darlene Newell had provided an orientation session, Brash said.
With their landscaping chores done by early in the afternoon, the Scouts then took in a safety presentation from the Oak Hill Fire Department and were treated to rides in the department’s bucket truck, and they capped off the day with ice cream at Tom’s Carry Out.
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