KEYSER — Those who attend sporting events at Keyser High School's Alumni Field will now be greeted by a testimonial to the hard work of a 2010 KHS graduate and a memorial to a beloved KHS coach who died tragically doing one of the things that he dearly loved.


by LIZ BEAVERS
Tribune Managing Editor

KEYSER — Those who attend sporting events at Keyser High School's Alumni Field will now be greeted by a testimonial to the hard work of a 2010 KHS graduate and a memorial to a beloved KHS coach who died tragically doing one of the things that he dearly loved.
Brandon Harris, a KHS graduate and member of Keyser Boy Scout Troop 27, has just completed a flag pole and memorial  along the entrance road to the new sports complex at Keyser High School.
The project is a requirement for attaining his Eagle Scout and, in planning it, Harris said he was looking for someone special to honor with the permanent addition to the sports complex.
“I wanted something that will be here for years for the school and the community,” he said.
The perfect honoree for the project was actually suggested by his mom, Robin Harris, who had been inspired  several years ago by a speech she'd heard given by the late Michael Kelly Day.
Although Harris had not known Day, who was tragically killed in a kayaking accident in the Savage River area in 1997, he says everything he heard about the beloved coach, teacher, and Scout leader proved to him that Day would be the perfect person to memorialize on Golden Tornado territory.
“My mom had met him and heard him speak at a Boy Scout banquet when my brother was a Scout,” Harris explains.
“She was very impressed with what he said; he really touched her.
“So I began talking to people and the more I learned about him .... I never heard anyone say anything bad about him,” he said.
“I couldn't think of anyone better to do this in memory of.”
In order to fulfill the requirements of becoming an Eagle Scout – the highest level earned by a Boy Scout – Harris had to plan and design the entire project.
He raised the funds  through selling hoagies and chocolates and by accepting donations.
He is the first to admit, however, that he couldn't have done the project without the volunteer help of many, including two of his former teachers at the Mineral County Technical Center.
“Mr. Dolly (Jay Dolly, instructor of general building construction) laid most of the bricks. I was really happy to have him; he did a much better job than I could have. He made it look very nice,” Harris said.
The project features a brick-on-concrete-block structure on which the plaque memorializing Day is affixed. To one side of the plaque are the metal letters “KHS” and a tornado, which were cut out by Carl Rexrode, welding instructor at the Technical Center.
“We hope to get a football helmet cut out to put on the other side,” Harris said.
As for the plaque itself, which was created by Tri-State Memorials in Piedmont, the photo of Day and the wording were chosen by Day's widow, Dawna.
“She wanted to have a part in it, so she picked out the words and the picture. I couldn't have done any better,” Harris said.
The plaque, which features a photo of Day in his Keyser uniform and ball cap, describes him as “promise keeper, husband, father, teacher, coach, friend, hunter, fisherman, athlete, kayaker, scout leader, speaker and motivator.”
In addition to the volunteers already mentioned, Harris says he wants to thank Valley Ready Mix of Keyser, which donated the concrete for the memorial; Keyser High School and the Mineral County Board of Education, who approved the project and agreed to provide the mulch and lighting for around the area; Gettysburg Flag Works; Heart and Soul Chocolates; and the leaders and members of Boy Scout Troop 27 who helped him.
Incidentally, one of the Scouts who assisted Harris with the project was Day's nephew.
“I'd also like to thank all the people who donated when they read about this in the newspaper,” he said.
Although Harris has already had his board of review and been approved as an Eagle Scout, he has not yet had his ceremony in which he receives his award. He hopes to be able to schedule that around the flag pole, with all those who helped him, along with Coach Day's family, in attendance.
Harris is the son of Robin and Donald Harris of Burlington and grandson of Alfred and Reba Harris of Burlington, Delores Arnold of Keyser and Ronald Arnold of Petersburg.
He is a freshman at Potomac State College, studying criminal justice.
At KHS, Harris was a three-time state qualifier in wrestling, and ran cross country for three years and participated in track for four years.
His 4x800 relay track team finished sixth in the state.