'Tide of Support' Helps Rebuild Scout Lodge
Off a country road in the middle of Moore County, a new Scout Lodge is rising like the mythical phoenix from its ashes.
Fire destroyed the lodge Boy Scouts and other volunteers had built just as it neared completion. A 17-year-old former Scout, Aaron Lee, was charged with setting the fire that burned the Lodge along with much of the building material donated to finish it.
On Friday, men from the West End United Methodist Church were feeding lunch to a crew of volunteers working to get the roof on before expected weekend rains. In less than three weeks, new walls have been put up, trusses mounted, and sheathing fastened in place. By late afternoon, they were hoping to be rolling felt.
Dwayne Parsons, who served the local Scout troop as Scoutmaster for many years, was one of those swinging hammers.
"There's Scouters, there's people who have been in the troop in the past, there's firemen out here," Parsons said in a telephone interview from the work site. "During the school day, we don't have any of the kids out here. We'll have some this afternoon."
The very speed of reconstruction is almost astonishing to Parsons, with the new lodge taking shape so quickly.
"It is amazing," he said. "We've had a lot of people out here helping. We have all the wall sheathing up now, except for one gable end. We saved the fireplace. It is starting to resemble the old building now."
A stone-faced fireplace had been covered by hand with water-smoothed brown rocks Scouts had collected from the bed of McClendon's Creek not far from where Joel McClendon, one of the earliest Moore County pioneers settled. His cabin still stands, the oldest original dwelling still on its original site.
Most of that fireplace somehow survived the fire, but there is one large interior section to be refaced. Scouts will go back to the creek for more rocks.
"We saved the majority of it, the clean core and outside stones," Parsons said. "We have one wall, about 250 square feet of space, we tore down. It is a local brownstone we picked up down at McClendon's Creek. A couple of us are masons anyway. There is a lot of hand work to do on those small stones in the hearth."
The good part of all this, as disheartening as the fire at first seemed to be, has been the tide of support generated from both in and outside the West End community, Parsons said.
"If it hadn't have been for the outpouring of support from around here, we wouldn't have moved this quickly," he said. "It's only been four weeks this past Monday night from the night of the fire."
Out of those four weeks, they could work only three. They could not do any work the first week because of the investigation, with the site cordoned off.
"The rush is to get it covered this afternoon before the rain comes," Parsons said. "We will have the main 4,000 square feet waterproofed today (Friday)."
They still don't know what part of the damage is covered by insurance.
"We have been on the phone with them for several days," he said. "It is a little slow. They need all the final reports, too, from the fire marshal and detectives. The insurance and us are still working things out.
"There have been contributions. There have been groups organized to come out here. Methodist Men are feeding us lunch today. The Ladies' Auxiliary from Eagle Springs fed us lunch last Friday. It is folks like that helping us, not just construction workers. They are trying to give us support they realize we need out here."
That kind of help speeds the construction work along.
"It's a job trying to orchestrate this, frankly," Parsons said. "Everybody is productive. They say, 'What can I do?' A lot of times it's just hands, coming to carry stuff."
They began covering the framing early Friday.
"We started sheathing at 8 o'clock this morning," he said. "We are moving along pretty good. There are 208 sheets (of roof sheathing) on this house. They have been put up since yesterday afternoon. We set the trusses yesterday morning. Before dinner time today, we will start rolling felt. We've had a portable sawmill set up out here sawing logs donated to us for the siding.
"We are trying to replace all the lumber we lost in the fire. We are very pleased with all the help out here. I just can't say enough about those people that come out here and helped us.
"I don't know if Aaron realizes that this is not just a building. It is not. We've said that several times. It is not just a barn. It has more meaning than that. It is a youth program. We have Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and a Venture Crew that meet with us. Again, we touch locally a hundred kids, from West End, Seven Lakes, Eagle Springs, Jackson Springs, and all the way up toward Carthage.
"With all that has happened, this is a positive thing. This is real good news. I feel like people are curious as to what's going on. We have people from the fire department who helped fight the fire who are out here helping put this back up."
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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