GLEN JEAN — “We won!”
Don Striker, National Park Service superintendent for the New River Gorge National River, couldn’t wait to get those words out of his mouth Wednesday when it was announced that the Boy Scouts of America would be making Fayette County its permanent home for not only a high adventure base but for its National Scout Jamboree.
Fueled by an incredible $50 million contribution from the S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation, The Summit: Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve will be developed over the coming months and years on a 10,000-plus-acre tract situated due east of the Glen Jean-Mount Hope area and bordering more than 70,000 acres of National Park Service property.
Following the Boys Scouts’ centennial celebration in 2010 and its final Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia, The Summit will become the host site for the Jamboree, held every four years, beginning in 2013. Approximately 40,000 Boy Scouts attend the Jamboree and tens of thousands of outside visitors also participate.
It was also revealed by Bob Mazucca, BSA chief scout executive, that efforts are now under way to try and bring the World Scout Jamboree to Fayette County a decade from now, in 2019.
“I’m blessed to be able to give back,” Steven Bechtel Jr., who became an Eagle Scout in 1940, told hundreds of people packed into the Glen Jean Armed Forces Reserve Center. Mr. Bechtel emphasized how scouting teaches values, ideals, character-building and knowing what’s right.
“I’m proud to help return the many gifts scouting provided to me.”
Gov. Joe Manchin was among the many to thank Mr. Bechtel for his gift and predicted that “it will keep giving ... for eternity.”
Manchin said when state Commerce Secretary Kelly Goes came to him 18 to 20 months ago to discuss the opportunity to bring the BSA to West Virginia, she pointed out the competition included approximately 32 states and 80 or more sites.
“I told her to assemble the team,” Manchin said. And so Project Arrow was launched.
Acknowledging the efforts of many, Manchin said the BSA project will “transform who we are as a state, who we are as a people” and that “the news that goes forth is that we are a special place.”
“I’ve never been more proud of West Virginia than I am today,” Manchin added.
Fayette County Commission president Matt Wender said the establishment of the National Scouting Reserve in the New River Gorge region is “an unbelievable partnership for us,” and he took time to credit the work done by many from Fayette County in the 1960s and ’70s.
“We must pause to thank a former generation,” Wender stated. “Those who took bold, visionary steps” to make certain that different uses “of our natural resources” were “sustained to give us a competitive advantage.”
“The Boys Scouts are here forever,” remarked Tico Perez, national commissioner for the BSA. “It’s a perfect day. This place is heaven, this place is unbelievable.”
Perez said 3 million kids are currently involved in scouting and that during the next 100 years another “100 million kids will be involved” and will come to West Virginia to experience The Summit.
“I wrote down what Mr. Bechtel said. He talked of inspiration, hope and direction for kids. With this, your mountain, it is done, Mr. Bechtel.”
GLEN JEAN — “We won!”