MOUNT HOPE, W.Va — The new J.W. and Hazel Ruby West Virginia Welcome Center was dedicated Tuesday afternoon.
The property, located along U.S. Route 19 in Mount Hope will serve as a greeting and educational experience to Scouts, travelers and locals alike to West Virginia and the Summit Bechtel Reserve. The center was constructed through a gift from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust. The trust has a history of giving back to West Virginia and the Boy Scouts.
Several notable people were on hand for the ribbon cutting. They include Governor Jim Justice, WVU President Gordon Gee and former Boy Scouts of America President Wayne Perry. Perry, who was also on the selection board for the permanent Jamboree home said West Virginia was the best fit for the Boy Scouts.
“Unbelievable beauty, we found a citizenry that was intelligent, hard-working, dedicated, patriotic,” he said. “You just could not believe what we’ve come across here.”
Governor Justice took time to commend the Boy Scouts of America, saying the Jamboree is bringing great exposure for West Virginia.
“The whole world is seeing West Virginia right now, and they’re seeing all the things we already know,” the Governor said. “We already know how good our people are and how beautiful our state is. But now, we have the spotlight on us.”
Justice also mentioned that the new welcome center has already received the approval of President Trump. He was in the motorcade with the President when they passed the new center.
“He turned to me and he said look at that building, isn’t that fabulous? If it catches his eye, it ought to be duly noted just how great it is.”
WVU President Gordon Gee also shared his remarks on the new facility. He also assured that his institution commits to a lasting partnership with Jamboree organizers.
“We as a university are absolutely committed to having an unbelievable relationship that allows scouting to flourish, and allows it to move into the future,” he said.
Gee is not only an Eagle Scout, but completed every merit badge available at the time. He joked about growing up in Utah, where there wasn’t anything else for him to do.
While visually appealing on the outside, the interior has educational activities, technology and information. There are multiple touchscreen tables and monitors containing videos and maps of scouting activities. An indoor rock climbing wall lines one side for those who want to get a taste of one of the state’s most popular outdoor activities. A collection of old Scout uniforms and other memorabilia is on display as well.
The most popular attraction among children and adults alike was what Scouting officials call a moon sand table. This high-tech educational tool uses camera and projection technology to let users manipulate sand into mountains and valleys. The projector then casts topographical lines and colors similar to a map on the creation. While children seemed to use the high-tech sandbox as playtime, parents enjoyed watching their kids have fun while learning simultaneously.
The J.W. and Hazel Ruby Memorial Welcome Center is located on the west side of U.S. Route 19 south of Sun Mine Road in Mount Hope. The center sits on 700 acres of land to be used for bus and volunteer parking during the Jamboree. The 2017 National Boy Scout Jamboree concludes this Friday.