David Reynolds | Dear Scout Leader
I understand from reading the papers and talking to a few friends that our Goshen Pass area may have been selected by your hired developer, a Mr. Isaac H. Manning, for future BSA national jamborees. I have not met Mr. Manning, but I have been told that he is a quite likable fellow and is conducting your business in a professional manner.
So I thought I would pass along a couple of thoughts to make Mr. Manning’s job easier. And, if you don’t mind, share them with those who will ultimately decide our mutual jamboree question — the citizens of Rockbridge County. They are represented by the county’s Board of Supervisors.
My first thought concerns the process. There is so much we don’t know about your intentions. For example, one press account said that any future jamborees here in the mountains will not be anything like those held on the piedmont plain of Fort A.P. Hill. That may be good news. However, I haven’t read any accounts of the alternative. But I’m sure you have a good idea of what it is. We would sure like to know.
It seems to me that if we all have a clear picture of “what that thing those damn Boy Scouts are up to,” as one person put it to me, then everyone would be ahead of the game. And we might save ourselves some unnecessary and unpleasant squabbling. The jamboree issue is now inside a goldfish bowl. Everyone is watching.
In other words, if this project is to fly the same people who are in on the landing need to be onboard for the takeoff. I’ll give you an example maybe close to your heart. I’m sure that your nonprofit organization wasn’t too happy to read in the papers that a cap was being proposed for income tax deductions. Bad news. Would it not have been better if the BSA were involved in the discussions? Maybe there is a better revenue enhancement solution out there. Even if not, it would have been a nice courtesy. Just suggesting.
However, the good news is that there is still time for everyone to be on board before the plane takes off.
As I mentioned earlier, there is another reason for this letter. It is to tell you a little bit about ourselves. There is a reason why those letters to the editor (which I’m sure you read) are all over the place. We have a strong strain of independence in our blood. It flows throughout these southern mountains. We live here because we wish to, not because of the employment opportunities. It is the living opportunities that attract us. To say it mildly, we are not too big on change, particularly anything that changes our land. Our land shapes our lives. And we tend to be suspicious of well intentioned outsiders who tell us what is best for us. I’m reminded of the tax man who knocked on a door and said, “I’m from the government and I have come to help.”
Let me cite three reasons why we feel this way. By being independent we thought that we could run our own community hospital. Then the red ink flowed faster than the blood of its patients as if all were on coumadin. Carilion rescued us from poor local management. Then Mead-Westvaco and an expanded Rockbridge Partnership thought that Buena Vista would love to have a big, new warehouse. Both were wrong. Both lost. BV won. And for over ten years we were told that a new county courthouse had to be built in a certain spot by a certain time. We were finally forced to swallow this unattractive and expensive pill. But we haven’t forgotten its bitter taste.
There is another important thing you should know about us. We have gotten a bum rap by those who say that this area is not business friendly. It all depends. It all depends on whether the business is appropriate for our way of life. As I hinted, we favor our present lives over possible future jobs. Sure, we would love to have better jobs — but never at the price of what brought us here in the first place. That’s why it was a mistake to have Mr. Manning address a crowd at a Rockbridge Partnership meeting. The partnership will not likely be around when you hold your next jamboree.
I’m sure involving local citizens in your planning process will not be difficult. It is not too late. And I’m sure the Boy Scouts of America don’t wish for a closed process to be a deal breaker. There is your reputation to think about. We are always thinking about our land.
I hope this has been helpful. There is too much at stake to throw away the opportunity to have a great jamboree in 2012. No matter where it is held.
David F. Reynolds
A Local Citizen
– Column by David Reynolds