Scout troop raising money

With more boys than ever joining its ranks, Mount Mourne Boy Scout Troop 173 has embarked on a fundraising campaign to expand the building it meets in behind Centre Presbyterian Church, off Interstate 77 Exit 33.

The troop plans to add 1,900 square feet to its 2,400-square-foot Scout Center. It has raised about $33,000 toward the estimated $100,000 cost. The troop will break ground after receiving at least $75,000 to $80,000 in pledges, Assistant Scoutmaster Russ Gavitt said.

Volunteers led by Cub Scout leader Bill Hicks built the existing Scout Center in 1993, when 35 Scouts met in the building. The troop now has 68 Scouts, with an average 45 to 50 attending meetings in the building.

Cub Scout Pack 173, which feeds into the troop, has about 80 boys. At least 14 of those Scouts are expected to join the Boy Scout troop in the spring.

Troop 173 started as Troop 1 about 55 years ago with only a handful of Scouts. It has been continually chartered and sponsored since 1966 by Centre Presbyterian Church and Fair View United Methodist Church.

The troop's rising number of Scouts over the decades has come with all the residential growth in southern Iredell County, scout leaders said during a troop meeting last week. Neighboring south Iredell Boy Scout Troop 171, sponsored by Williamson's Chapel United Methodist Church, has 110 members.

Troop 173 also is known for its high number of Scouts achieving Eagle, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

Sixty-six Scouts have earned Eagle over 55 years. Today, 20 Scouts are at the Life Rank - one rank from Eagle Scout - and five of them are expected to achieve Eagle in the next three months, Troop 173 leaders said.

"The national average is 3 percent," Troop 173 committee member Petey Orbison said, referring to the percentage of Scouts who achieve Eagle. "We're averaging 30 to 35 percent."

"We try to have a good program," Orbison said. "But a lot of it also is location, with all the growth this area has experienced."

Steffan Hutchison, 17, is a senior at Lake Norman High School and a Life Rank Scout who transferred from another troop. "Everybody knows your name," he said of Troop 173.

"Everybody knows you, and you get a chance to help other people," said Eagle Scout Bailey Abernathy, 16, a junior at Lake Norman High.

Tax-deductible donations to the Troop 173 Scout Center expansion project can be mailed to church treasurer Richard Woods, Centre Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 100, Mount Mourne, NC 28123. Write "BSA 173 Building Fund" on the memo line.

Carver School garden

City and school officials will join members of the Carver Area Historic Preservation Association on Monday to dedicate the Carver School Memorial Garden on the former site of the George Washington Carver School.

Special recognition will be given to the work done on the project by Kannapolis Alternative School teachers and students.

The site is beside Kannapolis Intermediate School, 525 East C St. The ceremony will be from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.