Ceremonies highlight broad impact of Scouting on Western Pa.

| Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012, 8:57 p.m.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and their leaders and parents gathered on Sunday with Cranberry-area dignitaries in the township's Graham Park to dedicate what they say is the nation's only permanent monument to honor the centennial of Scouting.

“It's pretty amazing, that the township has done something as nice as this to celebrate the 100-year anniversary,” said Jim Jardine of Cranberry, whose son Billy, 7, is a member of Cub Scout Pack 403.

The new Scouting Centennial Plaza and Fishing Lake fills three acres just off the park's road and was completed a week ago when workers installed paving bricks inscribed with donors' names around the central monument.

Another ceremony on Sunday, in Shaler, marked the completion of an Eagle Scout project to build a new fire pit and flagpole outside Mt. Royal Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9199.

In Cranberry, about 400 people worked on the plaza for the last 18 months. It cost about $150,000.

The southern Butler County community is a strong area for Scouting. The Boy Scouts' Moraine Trails Council serves about 6,000 youths in Butler, Armstrong and Lawrence counties.

“This area has grown exponentially,” said Henry Sinopoli, the council's board president. “Consequently, there is a lot of thinking going on here and a lot of tribute” to the organization, he said. The council's membership grows annually by 3 to 4 percent, or about eight new Cub Scout packs and Boy Scout troops, he said.

The Boy Scouts marked their 100th year in 2010, while the Girl Scouts are celebrating their centennial this year.

Both organizations' flags fly from poles on either side of a U.S. flag at the front of the plaza, while the three-sided stone and granite monument overlooking the man-made lake depicts the phases of involvement in the organization.

The first image shows parents with a young son and daughter. The next focuses on the children as they take their pledges as Scouts, and the third shows them as adults who someday will send their own children into Scouting.

“That continues the circle of Scouting, helping to mold another generation,” Butler County Commissioner Dale Pinkerton said at the ceremony, attended by about 200 people.

The plaza is “a dedication, really, to the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts and all they do in developing leadership,” said Pat Burkart, CEO of Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania, which has 36,000 members in 27 counties and has been growing by about 3 percent annually.

Girl Scouts plan to raise money for a pathway around the lake, with bricks that recognize members who earn the organization's silver and gold awards and a bridge to be used in ceremonies.

“Just as we have soccer, football and baseball fields,” said Bruce Mazzoni, co-chairman of the plaza project and president of the Cranberry Supervisors, “now Scouting has their plaza to use for whatever they want.”

In Shaler, Eagle Scout Jeff Nix, 17, and other volunteers solemnly burned more than 100 tattered flags in a retirement ceremony outside the VFW post.

About 50 people attended the ceremony, which included dedication of the fire pit and flagpole that Nix and about 25 helpers built.

Nix, a member of Boy Scout Troop 157 and a Shaler Area High School senior, said he got the idea at a flag ceremony last year at the old pit, which was a circle of cement blocks.

“It was not as nice as it could have been,” he said.

The new pit, designed with help from architect Jeff Wetzel, has a bottom 3 feet below ground level. It is lined with fire brick and has a raised block border. The post uses its pit for cookouts and other events in addition to flag ceremonies, said Ron Quinlan, senior vice commander.

The VFW also dedicated a monument to late member Joseph Mosesso, who served in World War II along with five of his brothers.

Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or kleonard@tribweb.com.

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