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Koch Scouting Center opens on North Oliver

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at 7:27 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, at 9:43 p.m.

The local council of the Boy Scouts of America has a new home with that fresh-paint, new-carpet smell.

The Koch Scouting Center opened Thursday at 3247 N. Oliver. The grand opening signaled the end of a $6.6 million “Delivering the Promise” fundraising campaign.

“It has been a long journey,” Brad Bechtel, president of the Quivira Council of the Boy Scouts of America, told about 70 people who gathered for a ribbon cutting. “The board and all the volunteers made a concerted effort to start with our camps and put our boys first.”

More than $4 million was devoted to making improvements at Camp Kanza near Hutchinson and the Quivira Scout Ranch near Sedan. The rest was spent on the new service center, which features training space, a conference room and a Scout shop that is four times larger than the one at the old headquarters at 1555 E. Second St.

“After we got boys put first, then we said, ‘Now, it is time for a Scout center,’” Bechtel said. In the old Scout office, “there really wasn’t room to turn around,” he said.

The new 14,000-square-foot building offers more space, more parking and more accessibility. It also features a Scout shop that scouting families and leaders can use to buy supplies and equipment.

“The items we have in there have been much expanded. You walk in there, it is hard to walk out without something in your hand,” Bechtel said. “The other thing we have to offer is a new conference center. It is much larger than our other one, the facilities are much better, a kitchen off to the side. It is going to facilitate meetings.”

The center is part of Koch Community Plaza, south of 96 Highway on Oliver. Koch Industries donated a little more than 5 acres for the project. The building was designed by Schafer Johnson Cox and Frey and built by Dondlinger and Sons Construction.

Brett Chugg, vice president at Koch Industries Inc./Invista, told the audience that Koch Industries believes in scouting.

“We recognize the importance of providing future generations with those same values, principles and beliefs that create strong citizenship, strong character and leadership in our community,” Chugg said. “We see the value of providing the youth in our community experiences – and supporting Scouts, adults and volunteers with facilities that will allow the experiences to continue.”

Before the ribbon cutting, Wichita City Council member James Clendenin talked about his experiences as a Scout.

“This is a very exciting day to be here and see this facility. It has been talked about a long time,” he said. “Just in 2009, I was working on finishing up my tickets for Wood Badge. Little did I know that scouting was preparing me for the job I am doing today on the City Council.”

He thanked scouting for the training he received there and he thanked Koch Industries, saying the center is “just another of many in a line of positive fingerprints that they have in this city.”

The Quivira Council serves a 30-county area of central Kansas with 13,000 Scouts and 5,000 volunteers.

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @beccytanner.

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