PARKERSBURG - Cleaning up after thousands of people downtown for Homecoming is a dirty job, but for 32 years, the members, leaders and parents of Boy Scout Troop 16 have been the ones to do it.
Scoutmaster Glenn Miller said setting up trash containers, emptying them and picking up after festivities end each night of the festival is one of many fundraisers the troop has done over the years to make sure no member ever has to miss a Scout trip for financial reasons.
"We either all go that want to go or we don't go," said Miller, entering his 52nd year as Scoutmaster for the troop. "It's like having a family; you don't leave anybody out."
Photo by Evan Bevins
Boy Scout Troop 16 members Chris Hutchinson, left, and Jarret Rejonis assemble a recycling container Friday afternoon in preparation for the start of the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival. Troop 16 has been helping to clean up trash at the festival since the event started in 1983.
Photo by Evan Bevins
Boy Scout Troop 16 members Timothy Sheppard, left, and Chris Hutchinson assemble trash and recycling containers Friday afternoon prior to the start of the Parkersburg Homecoming Festival. Troop 16 has been helping to clean up trash at the festival since the event started in 1983.
When trash duty is combined with selling parking spaces at the Matheny Motors and Chapman Printing lots, Homecoming usually brings in more than $2,000 for the troop, Miller said.
The trash collection process began Friday as a trio of Scouts and some adult helpers set up more than 100 trash and recycling containers.
"After that, we'll have a small crew out there, probably four boys and myself, making sure the barrels and containers don't run over," Miller said.
If the Scouts keep the containers clear, he said, people are more likely to throw their garbage inside, which makes the next phase easier.
"About 10:30, we'll have about 20 people come in, and we'll make the final roundup," Miller said. "The fact that we've cleaned up all day ... makes a big difference in the final cleanup."
It's hard work, said 16-year-old troop member Jarret Rejonis, but it's also fun.
"We're down here every day, all day," he said.
Scout Chris Hutchinson, 12, is helping out for the first time and knows he's in for some long days.
"It's a good thing I brought two waters, a Pepsi and some food," he said Friday afternoon. Rejonis is not just setting up and clearing containers this year, but also showing younger Scouts like Hutchinson the ropes.
"They learn as they go and next thing you know, they're instructors and leaders," Miller said.
All 14 Scouts in the troop are expected to help out over the three-day weekend, Miller said.
The Scouts' efforts are appreciated by city sanitation workers, who take the collected trash away each night.
"It takes a great load off the city workers, helps the place look clean," said J.D. Duley, with the sanitation department.
Miller said his troop got the job at the first Homecoming in 1983 and have been doing it ever since. That helps as the price of activities continues to increase.
Miller said it cost $130 apiece to send a couple of Scouts to the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico in 1965. The last time members of his troop went, in 2009, the price was about $1,000 each.
Besides New Mexico, Troop 16 has journeyed to the World Scout Jamboree in Canada, five national jamborees in Virginia and multiple camps.
"We've camped in 29 states, either in transit or for a week or more," Miller said.
During his tenure, 146 Scouts from the troop have attained Eagle status and the likely 147th is now under review.
Miller said the troop was fairly new but on the verge of folding when he became Scoutmaster in 1963. He said he'd do the job until they found someone to take over.
"And they still haven't found somebody," he said with a laugh.