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Boy Scouts of America to merge scout councils in Huntington, Charleston

By Rusty Marks, Staff writer

Local leaders with the Boy Scouts of America are in the process of merging scout councils based in Huntington and Charleston.

Jeff Purdy, scout executive for the Charleston-based Buckskin Council said the council could merge with the Huntington-based Tri-State Area Council effective July 1 if governing boards and leaders for both councils agree to the merger.

The Buckskin Council, with about 5,000 youth members, covers 19 counties in West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky, Purdy said. The Tri-State Area Council, with about 2,000 scouts, covers 10 counties in West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.

Tri-State Area Council President John Van Horn said national Boy Scout leadership urged the Huntington-based council to pursue a merger with the more financially secure Buckskin Council.

"They looked at us and said we need to approach [Charleston] about merging to get some economies of scale going," Van Horn said. 

"It's not like we're bankrupt," he said. "We're presently solvent. But we're also not spending the money we're supposed to be spending according to the national leadership."

Van Horn said a bad economy has made it harder to raise money for the local council. The Tri-State council currently has two vacant positions that would put the organization into the red if filled, he said.

Purdy said the Buckskin Council had a rough year last year, but has had balanced budgets four of the past five years. "We're pretty solid," he said, adding the Buckskin Council has gotten national recognition for its fiscal management.

Purdy and Van Horn said leaders in both Huntington and Charleston are in favor of the merger. "There are some advantages in being a bigger council," Purdy said.

Van Horn said the merger will actually increase opportunities for scouts in the Tri-State area and give kids more access to programs. He said the Boy Scout service center in Huntington will remain open after the merger.

Van Horn said the merger will affect the administrative operations of the larger council, but individual scouts, troop leaders and troops should see no changes because of the move.

"For them, this is essentially no change whatsoever," he said.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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