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Camp's potential boom sparks excitement

Jay Saxon will come and he will bring others.
Saxon is the Cub Master for Troop 648 in Statesboro. He has 10 Cub Scouts under his direction and he expects the group to also have 10 Boy Scouts this year too.
Saxon said his troop-- among the strong scouting contingent in Bulloch County -- will be among the thousands projected from Georgia’s Coastal Empire Council and possibly neighboring states to take advantage of the new Boy Scouts of America camp located in Screven County, just off Poor Robin Road and Highway 21.
At Blue Heron, the camp that will close in October in Riceboro, an average of 600 scouts used the property for events for weeks during the summer and on weekends at other times of the year. Some events, officials say, brought in 900 scouts.
That is a constant supply of people who could help pump money into the local economy.
“I know they want to do an award-winning scout camp,” Saxon said. “I think it is going to be a good place for a camp. We will definitely use the camp and see what all is involved.”
Saxon said with the 382 acres at the new camp is large enough for Cub Scouts could be organized on one side of the property’s 45-acre lake, while Boy Scouts would be on the other.
“The Cub Scouts could see what it is like to be a Boy Scout,” Saxon said.
The scouts paid $1.9 million for the 382 acres, or $5,000 an acre, to the property’s owners – Riedesel Forests Ltd., a German investment group. The property was managed by a forestry consultant – Pat Lee of Lee Forestry Inc. in Orangeburg, S.C.
The land owners paid $4,500 in property taxes last year. If the scouts seek an exemption from property taxes because they are a charity, they will need to fill out an eight-page application and get a decision from the board of assessors, said Edna Sikes, the county’s chief appraiser.
For the land to be exempt from property taxes, state law says any income from the property would have to be used “exclusively” for religious, educational or charitable purposes and for maintaining and operating the scouts’ organization.
Although property tax issues have not been completed on the property that the scout council closed upon Aug. 13, the financial boost from visitors to county is certain. Along with Screven, the other counties in the Empire Council are Bryan, Bulloch, Candler, Chatham, Effingham, Evans, Liberty, Long, Tattnall and Toombs.
“I don’t know of a percentage, but there is no doubt the more people who come into the county and city will boost the economy,” said Ricky McGhee, whose J and E Oil Company Neighbors Exxon stations are expected to reap benefits. “They all have got to get my services or services from other businesses.”