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Historic Boy Scout building needs help

Nick Roeseler, Ryan Hughes and Sam Venditti meet in one of the rooms in the scout building. Parents are trying to raise money to pay for repairs. - Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times
Nick Roeseler, Ryan Hughes and Sam Venditti meet in one of the rooms in the scout building. Parents are trying to raise money to pay for repairs.
— image credit: Nathan Whalen/Whidbey News-Times

There’s nearly 75 years of history lining the walls of the Oak Harbor building that houses Boy Scout Troop 59.

If the parents of the scouts have their way, the quaint, barn-like structure will be around for a lot longer.

The parents are trying to raise money to pay for some desperately-needed upgrades to the building. The biggest need scoutmasters see is to raise between $6,000 and $8,000 to pay for upgrading the building’s foundation and electrical system.

The building, which is located behind Skagit Farmers’ Supply, has been Troop 59’s home since the 1930s. Prior to that, the building was located near the corner of Goldie and Ault Field roads. They will celebrate 75 years in the Scout Hall in 2010.

The building’s walls are lined with the history of hundreds of scouts who earned merit badges and participated in camping trips during their years as proud Troop 59 members.

“We have lots of history here and we want to maintain the integrity of the building,” said committee chair Sharon Waltrip at a recent Boy Scouts meeting. Awards from “campborees” line the walls of the main room, and, next to the front door, is a list of the approximately 100 names of scouts who earned prestigious Eagle Scout honors. Leaders are quick to point out that, in 1971, an astounding eight boys earned their Eagle Scout rank at the same time.

Over the years, parents worked hard to maintain the building but they couldn’t always keep up. With some of the original wiring still remaining in the building, more substantial work needs to take place.

“This place has been upgraded over the years by concerned parents and scoutmasters,” Scoutmaster Karl Nielsen said.

Brian Jones, a former scout who volunteers helping current scouts, said serious problems surfaced when a new furnace was installed and workers noticed electrical dangers. Work needs to be done to ensure the scouts have a safe environment.

The building offers several advantages for the scouts over other troops’ meeting places, often in local churches. They have their own place they can decorate and space to store all of their gear they use for camping excursions. There are also three breakout rooms that allow scouts to meet in smaller groups and work on their merit badges.

Troop 59 has gone through some recent changes, combining with two other, smaller troops. That provided the scouts with a bigger troop, increasing opportunities for senior scouts to mentor younger scouts. It also ensures a qualified scoutmaster is always available to work with the scouts, said Scoutmaster Matt Van Pelt.

There are approximately 16 scouts who attend regular meetings and several more scouts who are ready to enter the troop. In all there are 30 boys listed as active in the troop.

Jones said he is contacting local service organizations to get some help. Organizers want to raise the money needed for the electrical work and foundation repairs in the next two months.

Jones said any fundraising the Boy Scouts undertake, such as making wreaths, has to go to scout programs. Parents are needed to raise money to improve the building.

If efforts succeed, the scouts of Troop 59 will keep their building for many more years to come.

“We need to preserve this place,” Van Pelt said.

To make a donation, mail checks to P.O. Box 111, Coupeville, WA 98239. For more information, call Waltrip at 240-8303.

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