Turbulent year strains finances for southern Utah Scouts



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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — A decline in revenue for conservative southern Utah Boy Scouts of America units is being credited to the Utah National Parks Council's failure to explain its stance on homosexual leaders.

Councils in the Salt Lake area and northern Utah have mostly recovered since the Scouts ended its ban on homosexual leaders, The Spectrum reported (http://bit.ly/1USiNsg).

The group also issued new membership rules that prohibit political advocacy.

Paul Tikalsky, Utah National Parks Council field director in five Utah counties and part of Nevada, says revenue declined at some of the more conservative units south of Salt Lake City because the council failed to explain its stance and the work of the organization's professionals.

A fundraising shortfall in southern Utah reduced some hours for staff, offices and equipment stores. A recent memo to donors says, "We understand that some may feel they are making a statement to the National BSA by not contributing. . Again, please understand that decision impacts our local boys in reduction of services and programs, and has little or no effect on the National BSA office."

Tikalsky said he's gotten calls from people who are concerned about safety.

"We have people down here just scared to death," he said. "But our youth protection program is the best in the world."

He said thousands of young people have been protected by safety measures, like a list that the group keeps of potential abusers who are barred from membership.

The organization also has policies requiring two adults at events and courses in driving safety.

Meanwhile, parents started two new units without church affiliation in southern Utah, and The Lions Club is once again sponsoring a unit in the area as well.

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Information from: The Spectrum, http://www.thespectrum.com

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The Associated Press

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