Decision to close Girl Scouts facility put on hold

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A controversial decision to close a Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland service center in Dexter, Mo., will be put on hold until a property committee can further discuss the matter, according to a board of directors vote Friday.

Board members approved a motion in June to sell facilities in Cape Girardeau and Dexter, then lease or construct a new building in Cape Girardeau.

A timeline for the organization's final decision has not been determined, CEO Jennifer Orban said Monday. It has also not been determined what process the property committee will use to reconsider their recommendation to sell the property, she


"After the decision to combine operations was made by the board in June, additional information surfaced regarding the potential payback of a grant and deed restrictions," according to a press release from Orban. "This information will be looked at by the volunteer property committee, which includes representatives from all regions of the council."

The Dexter facility is appraised at $350,000, according to the organization.

Board members learned after their vote that a $122,600 grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development will have to be repaid if the Dexter facility is sold. The Regional Healthcare Foundation also has the first right to purchase the property, because the foundation donated land for the project. They would not have to pay for the value of the land, only improvements.

Discussion of whether or not sell the facility will take place simultaneously with an upcoming comprehensive review of all program center properties, according to Orban.

"We have a long-range property plan that is already in the works," Orban said.

This review process is designed to generate a plan that ensures all program properties provide safe and well-maintained facilities that meet current and future needs, reads the press release.

More than 100 members of the organization voiced opposition to the sale of the Dexter facility during a meeting Aug. 30 in Poplar Bluff. Girl Scout leaders at that time said they had petitions, at least one containing almost 800 signatures, signed by parents, leaders and donors who are against the sale.

They warned this move would hurt the more than 2,200 scouts who currently use the Dexter facility, which was built less than 10 years ago through community donations and grants.

Members in August also indicated they were upset input was not sought from the membership before this decision was made.

When asked if the organization would change how information is circulated to members, Orban said, "We have a long-range communication plan regarding property and will continue to implement it."

The plan was in place when this decision was made, she said. Information about property decisions can be found on the organization's Web page. The page offers information to anyone who would like to stay updated, said Orban.

Stoddard County Presiding Commissioner Greg Mathis, a Girl Scout member, said he is pleased by the board's decision.

"At least they are doing due diligence to make sure all of their ducks are in a row from the legal aspect," he said. "I hope when everything is sorted out, they continue to keep the Dexter facility. Obviously, Stoddard County is very interested in keeping that building and office open."

These are tough decisions to make, and the organization wants to make sure it examines all of the information thoroughly, said Tina Stillwell, board chair of Girl Scouts of the Missouri Heartland.

Map of pertinent addresses

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