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Charleston Daily Mail: Give the Boy Scouts a property tax break

— *** Newspaper Endorsement Week 2014 ***—

The Summit Bechtel Family National Scout Reserve easily is the most exciting and largest development in Fayette County in decades. The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America raised $100 million to build this permanent home for the National Scout Jamboree.

The Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation donated $50 million to the project and the Suzanne and Walter Scott Foundation gave $25 million. Both Bechtel and Mr. Scott are Distinguished Eagle Scouts, civil engineers and philanthropists.

The 10,600-acre site borders the New River Gorge National River. The Summit will host the world jamboree in 2019.

This is a wonderful development that maintains the beauty of the area while boosting the local economy. Officials would like to do more by hosting BMX racing, skating events and even concerts.

To accommodate this activity, the Legislature is asking voters to extend the tax exemption for Boy Scouts to any land they may lease for these events. The constitutional amendment will be on the ballot on Election Day, which is Nov. 4.

The Daily Mail urges voters to vote YES.

Hosting activities will help the Scouts, help the state and help the local economy. Some local businesses are concerned that the Scout activities will compete with their businesses.

More likely, this will bring more travelers far and wide to Fayette County, boosting all the businesses in the area.

The amendment’s supporters include Dave Arnold, owner of Adventures on the Gorge resort, which was formed by four whitewater rafting companies in 2007. The resort’s activities include zip lines, rock climbing, rappelling and paintball.

Arnold goes back to the establishment of the whitewater rafting industry along the New River.

“You can call me an optimist,” Arnold told the Daily Mail’s Whitney Burdette. “There are people who look at it through a different lens and see it as something that can compete with them. It’s my belief that when I’m 80 years old 20 years from now, I’m going to sit on the rocking chair and say this has been a really good thing for our community.”

The amendment should not cost the county any property taxes as the 10,600-acre site should already be tax-exempt.

The Summit has been an excellent way to preserve the natural beauty of the area while improving the local economy.

The national jamboree occurs every four years. West Virginians should do everything they can to help the Scouts get good use out of the site during the other three years.

Please vote YES on the Boy Scouts Amendment.

Follow Charleston Daily Mail’s endorsements and news coverage at http://www.charlestondailymail.com

Editor’s Note: During Newspaper Endorsement Week, Oct.13-19, the West Virginia Press Association works to publicize the political endorsements offered by its member newspapers. The WVPA hopes to give readers a view of endorsements from around West Virginia before the start of early voting. To see all  of the Newspaper Endorsement Week articles, visit https://wvpress.wpengine.com/opinion/endorsementweek2014/

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