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Howard County Boy Scout restores historic bell at church for Eagle Scout project

Xavier Cook, center, with County Executive Calvin Ball, left, and District 5 Councilman David Yungmann and his Eagle Scout project.
Xavier Cook, center, with County Executive Calvin Ball, left, and District 5 Councilman David Yungmann and his Eagle Scout project. (HANDOUT)

Xavier Cook, 15, a member of Boy Scout Troop 007, has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout with his project of restoring the bell at the historic Mount Gregory United Methodist Church.

Xavier wanted his service project to consist of something historic for a nonprofit organization in the community. A cousin of his remembered that the bell from Mount Gregory had been stored in a shed for over 50 years and suggested that Xavier consider pursuing that as a project.

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When the church was built, there was a bell in the belfry on the roof. In the 1970s, the bell was removed because of fears that the building was not strong enough to support it, and it was placed in a shed on the property.

Xavier started with a GoFundMe page, raising almost $1,500 to restore the bell and mount it. He then organized a group of Scouts and adults, who, with help from some heavy machinery, managed to get the bell out of storage. Many days and much work later, the bell was finally cleaned and mounted on a concrete pad at the church along with a plaque telling the history of the bell.

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The Mount Gregory United Methodist Church in Cooksville is one of the oldest churches in Howard County. The Warfield Academy was founded in 1867, after the Civil War, to be used as a school to educate the African American children of Cooksville. Mount Gregory Church was organized in the lower level of the school building so the people would also have a local church to attend. In 1898, the current building was built, and it is designated as a State Historic Site.

Xavier has family ties to the church. His great-grandfather, Wallace Cook Sr. and his 12 siblings all attended the school at Mount Gregory. Family members have always attended the church, according to Charlotte Cook, Xavier’s grandmother.

The Eagle Scout Court of Honor was held in the church. Guests and speakers at the ceremony included County Executive Calvin Ball, District 5 Council Member David Yungmann, Maryland State Conference NAACP President Willie Flowers, Preservation Howard County President Fred Dorsey, and Leonardo McClarty, president and CEO of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce.

Many pictures were taken of Xavier and his guests standing with the bell, which is alongside Route 97, in front of the church.

Xavier lives in Glenwood with his parents Jacqueline and Glenn Cook and his younger brother Zachary. He is a 10th grader at Bullis School in Potomac, where he is a member of the swim team. Congratulations to Xavier and to his family for a wonderful project that celebrates and preserves the history of our area.

Kassidy Sharp, the theater arts director at Glenelg High School is excited to announce that the spring musical will be ”Hairspray.” This musical, based on a movie by John Waters, is set in Baltimore, and is about inclusion, integration and acceptance. Performances will be Thursday, March 26, Friday, March 27 and Saturday, March 28 at 7 p.m. Matinees will be Saturday, March 28 and Sunday, March 29 at 2 p.m. All tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

It’s not too late to get tickets to the Glenelg Boosters Club’s Annual Booster Bash and Silent Auction. With the theme Gladiator Casino Night, the bash will be held from 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, March 13 . at The Salandra Barn on Carrs Mill Road in Woodbine. Tickets are $75 and includeappetizers, beer, wine, desserts and starter chips for poker, roulette, money wheel and blackjack. You can support the academic and athletic programs at Glenelg while you have fun. Tickets are available at glenelgboosters.com.

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