Boy Scout Organizational Meeting Set

Thursday, January 30, 2014
Joe Cole with some of the hundreds of Boy Scout items he has collected in the 50-plus years he痴 been involved with the organization.

The history of the Boy Scout program in the Piggott area is both long and rich, steeped in tradition and shared values. Actually, the history of Scouting in Clay County can be traced back to the early days of the organization following the turn of the last century, but participation diminished during the Great Depression. The local program then experienced a re-birth during World War II, and in the decades since has provided life lessons and helped build the characters of hundreds of young men.

But, in recent years local interest in the Boy Scouts once again waned and the program became dormant. Thankfully, concerned parties and former scouts kept the local charter active, and now a new effort is underway to bring life back to the program in the Piggott area.

One of those taking the lead is former Boy Scout and scout leader Joe Cole, who has dedicated thousands of hours to the organization over the course of his lifetime.

Cole first started in the Cub Scouts, then later became a Boy Scout and was a member of the local Explorer Post in the mid to late 1960's. He eventually became an assistant scout leader, and later a Boy Scout leader. During his years of service he was also recognized with the coveted Silver Beaver Award--the highest council honor afforded by the organization to a leader.

His time as a leader was highlighted with a number of special trips for the Scouts he led, as he joined members in hiking exotic and distant locations across the U.S. and Canada.

Last year Cole returned to Piggott, and along with his wife Tracey opened the Inn at Piggott. The return to his hometown has not only allowed Cole a chance to resume his studies of local history, it also afforded him the chance to try to help get the Boy Scout program back on track.

"I've read a lot about the guys who re-started the Boy Scout program in the early 1940's and you really have to respect them for all they did," he reminisced recently. "They started the program back up just as the war was getting underway and they had a big impact on the community."

Cole noted there were no flag poles in the Piggott area when World War II broke out, and the local Boy Scouts took up the cause--eventually raising the funds to erect one on the courthouse grounds.

"When you read about how hard they worked, and what they did it really illustrates the positive effects the Boy Scouts can have on a community," he explained. "We need more of that today and I'd love to see the program grow and prosper in Piggott again."

Cole also proudly displays hundreds of items of Boy Scout related memorabilia and awards in his law office on the Piggott square, and gladly shares the memories. "During World War II all the local members took part in a paper drive, and each one of them earned a medal with General Dwight Eisenhower on it for their efforts," he explained. "I read somewhere each boy had to collect 1,000 pounds of paper, but Jim Richardson said he thought it was 2,000--I just know all out boys hit the goal and earned the commemorative medal."

Richardson, along with retired local businessman Don Roeder, were two of the local Scouts who took part in the drive--and joined the organization early in the effort to revive the local troop according to Cole. Both are now trustees of the Matilda and Karl Pfeiffer Museum and Study Center in Piggott. Through their involvement with the museum they still enjoy a strong tie with Scouting, presenting programs on both the mineral and gem collection and the Native American artifacts on display.

"Jim Richardson was the second Eagle Scout from the Piggott Troop if I remember correctly," Cole, the historian, adds.

This weekend Cole, and a number of interested parties, are hosting an organizational meeting for the Boy Scout program in the Piggott area. During the gathering they hope to register both members and prospective leaders.

The meeting will be held beginning at 8 a.m. this Saturday, Feb. 1 at the Inn at Piggott. Those attending will have a chance to discuss the program, sign-up for Boy Scouts or get more information about being an adult leader.

"We've already got a number of adult leaders interested in taking part," Cole added. "But, if anyone would like to help or has a boy interested in joining they're welcome to attend."

Those wanting additional information may contact Cole at 901 246-7647.

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