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He helps youngsters soar

Bath County's Terry Highley builds and remodels homes for a living, but some folks say he's even better at building young men.

Highley has helped 27 boys in Bath County make Eagle Scout — beginning with his own two sons — since he became a Boy Scout leader in the 1980s.

That record of service recently earned Highley the 2009 Bath County Community Service Volunteer Award, presented annually to a county resident who works behind the scenes to help others.

Organizers lured Highley to the awards ceremony in front of the Bath County Courthouse in Owingsville by asking him to bring some Boy Scouts to serve as a color guard for the festivities. Once Highley arrived, he realized that he was getting the award. It included a granite tile, bearing his name, in the brick wall in front of the courthouse.

Banker Jacky Watson, who served on the committee that selected Highley for the volunteer award, describes him as resembling Grizzly Adams but being a "teddy bear at heart."

Watson's son, Aaron Watson, is one of the boys who became an Eagle Scout under Highley's leadership.

A Boy Scout must complete a 100-hour community service project as part of his qualification to become an Eagle Scout. Jacky Watson said Highley strongly backed her son in his project to put up two flagpoles at a volunteer fire station in rural Bath County.

"Aaron was Terry's 25th Eagle Scout, and I think he has added at least two more since then," Watson said. "Terry has high expectations for the boys; he puts in a lot of time; he's very encouraging but also has strong discipline; and he knows how to work with the boys and their parents."

Watson said Highley and his wife, Debbie, an art teacher, began working as Cub Scout leaders in Bath County more than 20 years ago. Not long after that, Highley helped his two sons, Jason and Phillip, make Eagle Scout. He has been cranking out Eagles ever since.

Radio news reporter Jeff Ray, another member of the award committee, called Highley "a country guy with a really big heart.

"His scouts have cleaned up cemeteries around the county, built picnic tables for roadside parks. ... Terry looks at these boys as his kids. And to this day, if guys that he's worked with need advice or a shoulder to cry on, they know Terry's available."

James P. "Sonny" Rawlings, who began the Bath volunteer program in 2007, said Highley has done more than just help produce a lot of Eagle Scouts.

"He's worked with some kids over the years who could have gone in the wrong direction without his help," Rawlings said.

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