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Taylorsville Journal

Eagle Scout candidates lend a helping hand at the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center

Oct 30, 2019 04:05PM ● By Carl Fauver

Taylorsville Historic Preservation Committee Chairwoman Susan Yadeskie, Eagle Scout candidates Andrew Valora and Kyle Jones and preservation committee member Wendy Cochran (L-R) pose behind the antique ice sled Kyle restored for the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center. (Carl Fauver/City Journals)

By Carl Fauver | [email protected] 

A more than century-old tradition is drawing to a close in just two months, on Dec. 31.  But before that happens, countless active Boy Scouts in Taylorsville and throughout the state and nation are scrambling to finish up service projects to attain their coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is officially severing its affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of the year. According to a report in “Esquire” magazine, when that occurs BSA will lose nearly one out of every five Scouts.  

“For 105 years, the relationship between the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church has been important to both groups,” the national magazine reported. “The Church has been the largest participant of the Boy Scouts in the United States, making up nearly 20[%]of all of the Boy Scouts’ 2.3 million youth members.”

The affiliation between the Church and BSA actually dates back nearly to the moment the Boy Scouts officially incorporated in the United States, on Feb. 8, 1910.

“I am emotional about it; I’m sad to see it end,” said Cory Rushton, who was a Taylorsville Scoutmaster for a quarter-century, from 1992 through 2017. “[Being a Scoutmaster] helped me stay young. It was rewarding to see boys become men. It was a super program.”

Rushton offered his comments while holding a paint brush behind the Taylorsville Bennion Heritage Center (1488 West 4800 South) where he and several other volunteers were assisting one of those beat-the-clock Eagle Scout candidates.

“For my project, we are staining and painting several things [at the heritage center], including a couple of buildings, an outhouse, two benches and a cider press,” said Eisenhower Junior High School eighth grader, Andrew Valora. “I took a field trip here when I attended Fremont Elementary School a few years ago. I chose this project because it helps the local community.”

Taylorsville City paid for the paint, stain and brushes — a worthwhile investment, according to one elected official.

“When Eagle Scout candidates take on projects at the heritage center, it saves our own maintenance crews time and money,” said Mayor Kristie Overson. “I mean, the work has to be done. But more importantly, it’s just a great tradition. The museum has had a great relationship with the Boy Scouts for years.”

Andrew got the idea to complete his project at the heritage center from his mother, who works with a member of the Taylorsville Historic Preservation Committee.

“I am an aide and teacher at Eisenhower Junior High, where Wendy Cochran is a (financial) secretary,” Betsy Valora said. “I told her Andrew was looking for a service project, and she suggested he contact the museum. We’ve lived in Taylorsville 23 years. This place provides a fantastic way to hold on to our heritage.”

“We need a lot of projects done at the heritage center and scouts help out a lot,” Cochran said. Then-Taylorsville City Councilman Curt Cochran’s wife added, “I love being a part of the preservation committee. It’s fun helping the community preserve its past.”

A member of Taylorsville North Stake Troop 948, Andrew is the third Valora boy to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. 

Meantime, from the Jordan Stake Third Ward Troop 636, Cottonwood High School senior Kyle Jones is racing, along with his younger brother, to join their three older brothers in becoming Eagle Scouts before the end of the year. His project required restoring a piece of equipment at the heritage center, believed to be even older than the 100-year old Boy Scouts of America.

“We’ve suggested restoring this old ice hauling sled as a service project to several Eagle Scout candidates, but Kyle was the first one willing to take it on,” said Taylorsville Historic Preservation Committee Chairwoman Susan Yadeskie. “We believe the sleigh dates back to between 1900 and 1910. He did such a great job.”

Andrew said nearly all of the rotted wood from the original sled had to be replaced. He credits much of his assistance on the project to an adult neighbor, adviser and master craftsman Paul Spiers.

“We took the sled to Paul’s business (Inspired Retail Solutions), where he helped me replace the broken wood and shave the (sleigh) runners,” Kyle added. “We worked on it for about a month. Some troop mates helped, but I couldn’t have gotten it done without Paul’s help.”

“I’m proud of him; there was a lot more work to the [sled restoration] project than Kyle thought there would be,” Todd Jones said of his son’s effort. “If Kyle and his brother finish up their projects in time, we will be five-for-five—sons becoming Eagle Scouts.”

Of course, the Boy Scouts of America will continue to have troops scattered throughout Utah next year. But members of troops currently sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have to join different groups — typically sponsored by other religious organizations —to continue earning merit badges and Eagle Scout ranks. 

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