09/25/12 — Eagle Scout builds fence at battlefield

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Eagle Scout builds fence at battlefield

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 25, 2012 1:46 PM

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Adrian Thompson places a rail into place while constructing a snake rail fence at the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield site on Old Mount Olive Highway. Thompson built the fence as part of his Eagle Scout project.

Visitors to the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield on Old Mount Olive Highway will notice a new addition to the historic site thanks to an Eagle Scout who turned to the past to improve the county's future.

Adrian Thompson, 17, said his father, Kerry, had been involved with the Goldsborough Bridge Battlefield Association since the group began and that he knew the volunteers were always looking for help with projects.

He spoke with the association's president, Randy Sauls, about the site, which is owned by the County of Wayne, and he suggested the idea for the completion of a Civil War-era snake rail fence that had been begun in 2010.

"And I said 'Why not?'" Thompson recalled.

Sauls said he had been enthralled with the concept of bringing a snake rail fence to Goldsborough Bridge ever since he saw the winding boundaries at the Battle of Gettysburg historic site years before.

Sauls said while his group's volunteers are long on dedication, they routinely come up short with funding, meaning the site leans heavily on volunteer work and donations. Thompson's project is the third Eagle Scout project to benefit the battlefield, he said.

That volunteer work gets more "bang for the buck," he said, and benefits not only the association, but the county and the state as well.

Sauls, who has been researching the battlefield for 25 years, said the fence's curb appeal couldn't be denied, as it clearly identifies what otherwise could be mistaken for an unused field as a Civil War landmark.

An added bonus came in the form of a flagpole donated by the downtown Goldsboro branch of BB&T.

Employees there banded together in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and installed the flag pole, but the pole was knocked down and damaged by an errant driver one weekend.

Kerry Thompson approached Danny Davis, then with BB&T about the pole and he in turn asked Karen Jernigan at the bank if the aluminum pole could be hauled off and put to better use.

"It did the bank a favor, but it also went toward the good of the county," he said.

County Manager Lee Smith was happy with Thompson's choice of project as well, especially since it benefitted the county by beautifying the battlefield at an estimated savings of $12,000 for materials and labor.

Still, its greatest value can't be expressed in dollars, he said.

"I don't think you can put a price on it," Smith said. "To be able to make an impact like Adrian has made with no cost to taxpayers, especially considering his age, is phenomenal. It shows a real community spirit."

And with the battlefield prepping for its sesquicentennial in December, the new fence will be on full display in front of what's expected to be the battlefield's biggest audience soon. The Battle of Goldsborough Bridge will be memorialized on its 150th anniversary Dec. 14-16 of this year through reenactments and living history exhibits for the public.

The battle was fought Dec. 17, 1862.

The anniversary was already expected to be a large draw, Smith said, adding that the new installments would be "icing on the cake."