Boy Scout councils merge

The Greater Western Reserve Council Boy Scouts closed in December and will consolidate to become the Great Trall Concil. A flag retirement ceremony was held for the GWRC at Cafe 422. From left are Aidan McGee, 12, Liam McGee, 16, both with Troop 28, Jennifer McGee, Thomas James, council president GWRC, Frankie Santee of Troop 122 and Jim Rappone, troop leader.

WARREN — The new year will be the start of a new era for the Boy Scouts of America in northeast Ohio as five area scouting councils, including one in Warren, will be consolidated to three.

The Boy Scouts of America Greater Western Reserve Council, which formed in 1993 and had headquarters at 4930 Enterprise Blvd. NW, held its final meeting in December at Cafe 422, where it officially retired its U.S. flag. One of the last things done before closing its doors was allowing the public to stop and view the Peace Light from Bethlehem that had been brought overseas to America for the holiday season.

Todd Walter, BSA area director, said the five councils — the Greater Cleveland Council in Cleveland, the Great Trail Council in Akron, the Greater Western Reserve Council, the Heart of Ohio Council in Mansfield and the Buckeye Council in Canton — will merge into three to increase efficiency.

The three councils will be the Great Trail Council, encompassing Warren, Youngstown and Akron; the Buckeye Council, which includes the Marion / Mansfield area to the eastern border of Ohio; and a new, yet to be named council along Lake Erie from Ashtabula County to Erie County, including Cleveland. The vote to consolidate was in October.

“Many factors go into the decision to realign councils, and the most important consideration is how we can best deliver scouting to these communities,” Walter said.

The Greater Western Reserve Council represented scouts in Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Mahoning and Trumbull counties, as well as a small portion of Portage County. There are nearly 5,000 scouts in the council, and about half are in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

The new structure, in part, will provide better opportunities for scouts and more resources to recruit and support youth members and adult leaders.

Mike Jones, executive director of the Great Trail Council in Akron said he believes the consolidation will “make scouting stronger and put more resources at the Boy Scout and Cub Scout troop levels.” The merger will also strengthen Camp Stambaugh in Canfield and Camp Stigwandish in Madison, Jones said.

Thomas James, GWRC council president, said it was because of “fierce economic forces” the decision to consolidate was made. James said the scouts will continue to receive the same services and programs and attend the same camps.

Officials said the GWRC is aligning with Great Trail because the Akron council is older, more established and its youth population loss through 2020 is expected to be significantly less than others.