Allohak Council discusses possible dissolution

Jeff Purdy, Scout executive of the Buckskin Council, based in Charleston, speaks about that council's 2012 merger with a council based in Huntington. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

PARKERSBURG — Area scouting volunteers met with an area president of Boy Scouts of America to discuss the possible dissolution of the Allohak Council.

Darryl Dillenback, president of Area 4 for Boy Scouts of America, said the area covers nine councils in most of Ohio and West Virginia and a small area of Kentucky. Dillenback also served as president of the Buckeye Council based in Canton, Ohio.

About 60 people attended Tuesday’s meeting at the BSA Service Center at 1340 Juliana St.

Dillenback said three years ago the Allohak Council was placed on at-risk status.

Darryl Dillenback, president of Area 4 of Boy Scouts of America, speaks to about 60 people Tuesday at the BSA Service Center at 1340 Juliana St. (Photo by Jeffrey Saulton)

“There are three different levels of concern councils can be placed on by the region or by national; at risk is the first level,” Dillenback said. “At that level we point out things that are concerning to the council and we ask the council to solve those problems themselves.”

If progress is not made, he said, a council can be placed on a conditional charter, which involves the area trying to help the council by making suggestions and getting involved. However, the council has to do the work to get back on track in the areas where area or national leadership feels there are deficiencies, Dillenback said.

“The third is the transitional charter, which is the stage we are in now, which is saying ‘this is just not working, we have got to make some transitional moves here,'” he said. “We need to do some things here to protect the kids and protecting scouting.”

Dillenback said the Allohak board voted in May to go the transitional charter.

“The asked us ‘are we going to make it,'” and we said, ‘if we had to tell you today the answer would be no.'”

Dillenback said that allows the area to come in and do as they please as to which council each district would go to and how the council’s assets would be distributed.

Many at the meeting said they were not told about the BSA decision regarding dissolution of the Allohak Council. They said they were not told about the transition or about the amount of time they had to fix the problems.

In May, Dillenback said, the board voted to go to transitional status and they are still in control of the council. He added they will be in charge for several months.

“Nothing is changing until the end of the year,” Dillenback said.

James Bennon, a board member and vice president of property, said the Allohak Council cannot be saved.

“The opportunity to save this council has come and gone,” he said. “That’s the way it is, right, wrong or indifferent. There were six or seven on the board that were active. We couldn’t get people to come to board meetings and we were lucky to have a quorum.

“When we did, there was so much dissension among the board, and between the east and west council, it was a train wreck.”

Dillenback said there are several factors that lead to being at risk or even put on transitional status. He said those were in budget, membership, governance.

Dillenback said the Allohak Council has not been meeting its budget, membership was declining and governance was in distress.

“We were seeing district not supported to the point the Stonewall Jackson and the Highlands districts actually sent a letter saying they wanted to get out of Allohak and the Allohak board in a meeting with their representatives and said this has been going on for several years, let’s just go ahead and get a divorce,” he said.

Dillenback said the Mountaineer Council has agreed to take over the Stonewall Jackson and Highlands districts.

“We are way down the road on that,” he said.

Dillenback said in the transitional phase the cures can be as simple as stepping up recruiting efforts or a training session on governance for the board.

“We tried to organize a training session, the goal was 75 percent attendance and we backed down to 50 percent and we had 36 percent,” he said. “It’s those kinds of things that weren’t working and we need to maintain scouting has a place in this area and we have councils that can support these activities.”

Dillenback was asked how they were rated as a gold council and have a deficiency.

“You met some metrics, but you lost $20,000 and had a $40,000 deficiency in assets where you drained out some of your assets,” Dillenback said.

“The projections were while you are in a surplus to date, you do not have a scout executive and you do not have staff in certain places,” he said. “The national will not put a scout executive in where it just isn’t working and they won’t fund it until you fix the problems.”

Dillenback said area four has seen a number of changes in merging councils, going from five to three.

“The volunteers got together and said we got to do something and the volunteers put it together and national came in and took care of the legal stuff,” he said. “They are all thriving; area four led the country last month in growth of traditional scouting and exploring.”

During the meeting the group met with Jeff Purdy, Scout executive of the Buckskin Council, based in Charleston, and Kevin Craig, the president of the Buckskin Council, which covers 32 counties in West Virginia and Virginia.

Purdy said the Buckskin Council had been part of a consolidation of districts when they took much of the Huntington-based Tri-State Council four years ago. Craig is a former president of the Tri-State Council.

Purdy said they kept the Tri-State Council campground, Camp Arrowhead, and if it is showing use, Camp Kootaga in Wirt County would be maintained.