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Mattox completes project to finish his Boy Scout journey

WEST POINT — Several years ago when Wesley Mattox was thinking about what to do for an Eagle Scout project, he happened to notice a dead bat on the sidewalk outside the West Point Methodist Church, where his dad, the Rev. John Mattox, is the minister. He’d heard complaints from church members about bats roosting in the upper reaches of the church and heard talk that nearby First Baptist Church had the same problem.

He started thinking about finding the bats a better home and researched a solution. That solution both helped the local bat population and earned him the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

He talked about what he did for the bats following the Sunday afternoon ceremony at West Point Methodist where he was officially recognized as an Eagle Scout.

Mattox decided to make bat boxes. There are 10 of them in the West Point area right now, and the bats are starting to roost in them. Two of them are mounted on 12-foot-tall poles in a parking area across from the church.

“Up to 500 bats can live here,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of them in the church, and hopefully they will relocate here.”

Bat boxes differ from bluebird boxes in that they are bigger and the opening is on the underside rather than on the side. The boxes are rectangular in shape and are about four feet tall and two feet wide. They are painted gray with the name “bat” at the bottom.

Wesley is a senior at Troup High. He plans to attend college following his high school graduation and would like to study art and history on the next level.

The bat boxes are the latest community benefit coming from the ingenuity of Eagle Scout candidates in Troop 9003. Scoutmaster Joel Finlay is proud of what his guys have done in recent years.

“We’ve had seven Eagles in six years, and we have several more coming along,” he said. “We have bus shelters, walking bridges, batting cages at the ball field, a pavilion down by the kayak ramp, raised beds, an irrigation system and compost bins at the food garden across from the Baptist church. Another one of our scouts made some raised bed gardens outside the Lanett Senior Center.”

Finlay wants his scouts to feel like they are part of a legacy.

“We tell the boys that these projects, when done well, will be something you will be proud of when you come home,” he said.

Requirements to be an Eagle Scout include earning at least 21 merit badges, demonstrating scout spirit, an ideal attitude based on the Scout Oath and Law, service at leadership, plus the completion of a service project. The Scout must plan, organize, lead and manage that project.

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