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Scout troop refurbishes historic theatre

FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. -- As Michael Jackson's "Beat It" faded into "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, 36 boys stood inside the historic Fayette Theatre in Fayetteville on Monday, ready to carry out their roles.

The members of D410, a Boy Scout troop made up of kids from the Greater Western Reserve Council in Ohio, painted the walls of the 78-year-old theatre during day four of the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative, part of the 2013 National Scout Jamboree at the nearby Summit Bechtel Reserve.

The five-day initiative sent Scouts to nine different counties in Southern West Virginia to complete 353 separate service projects. Nearly 40,000 Scouts are participating in the 2013 Jamboree, and will complete an estimated 300,000 hours of community service in the southern part of the state.

"We're adding primer and paint to the walls to secure it and make it look better for the customers here," said senior patrol leader Corey Smith, 17. "We're also fixing up backstage a little to make it better for the actors and crew."

Smith, from Madison, Ohio, said the members of D410 -- a temporary troop created for the Jamboree -- come from at least 15 different troops represented by the Greater Western Reserve Council. He said each troop at the Summit was given a community service project to help them explore and connect with the region.

"As Boy Scouts of America, the most important words in our name are 'of America,' -- we're here to help our country in any way, shape or form," he said. "Whether it's to train boys to be better leaders or to reach out to the community and make it better for small businesses or the people of the town, that's the reason we're doing this."

Gene Worthington, artistic director at the Fayette Theatre, appreciates the help.

"It gives them a chance to see southern West Virginia in an entirely different light, and it also gives them a chance to see the cultural things that go on in the area," Worthington said. "It gives them opportunities to venture into smaller towns and see how viable the communities are in our area. This gives them a chance to put a location to their experiences."

The 240-seat theatre, built in 1935 as a town movie theatre, was abandoned in the 1960s. According to Worthington, the theatre, which produces six shows a year, was abandoned and unused until it was refurbished in 1992.

"It was a garbage dump. The ceiling was gone, and they were throwing trash in here," he said. "The Historical Society contacted me and wanted to know if I wanted to do theatre here and I said, 'sure,' and within about six months, they had the place cleaned up, a new ceiling put in, new chairs -- everything."

The theatre has been up and running for 20 years, and was in need of water seal and a new coat of paint, so Worthington applied for it to be added to the list of community service initiatives two years in the making, according to Elayna Conard, a community staff volunteer with the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia.

"These sites have had to apply for the last two years in order to be accepted for these projects, so they're all very appreciative of the work that has been done by the Boy Scouts at these sites because without them these sites wouldn't have had as much attention," Conard said.

The CCC partnered with the Boy Scouts to organize the Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative. Community service is an integral part of Scouting -- according to assistant Scoutmaster Chuck Hayes, Scouts must plan and complete a community service project totaling more than 100 hours before they can become Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in the program.

Worthington said the generosity of Troop D410 came just in time for the theatre's production of "Duck Hunter Shoots Angel," a play set to premiere Friday. A comedy by Mitch Albom, author of "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" and "Tuesdays with Morrie," "Duck Hunter Shoots an Angel" follows the story of two brothers in Alabama who convince themselves they have shot down an angel while hunting.

Smith, who has participated in theatre productions in his high school, said he was glad to help what he felt was an important cause for Fayetteville.

"I can relate to what they're doing here and why it needs to be done," he said.

Other service projects taken on by Boy Scouts participating in the Jamboree include restoration of the Morris Creek Watershed in Fayette County, stream cleanup at the White Sulphur Springs Fish Hatchery in Greenbrier County, and the construction of 20 dog houses for the Monroe County Animal Shelter.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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