The Consolidation of Two Great Scout Councils
In 2001, Comanche Trail Council and Chisholm Trail Council went through a merger study to determine if the two councils should merge. Following the study, the Chisholm Trail Council voted to proceed with the merger, whereas the Comanche Trail Council voted to remain independent, hire a new Scout Executive and move forward. Following that decision, the two councils continued to put on a quality Scouting program in their respective councils. However, they both still faced financial challenges in supporting those programs. When the Scout Executive of the Chisholm Trail Council accepted a position with the National Council, BSA, the Area Director, Harold Watson, asked for another meeting by the councils to consider doing another merger study.
Another Meeting Held in 2002
On June 19, 2002, a group of key leadership from Concho Valley Council, Comanche Trail Council and Chisholm Trail Council met in Coleman, Texas. At this meeting they discussed possible solutions to problems facing each of the three councils concerning the challenge to continue to provide a quality program for youth with a declining financial base. The three councils left the meeting with a promise to have their respective boards to consider entering a Program Review Study with the other two councils pointing to a possible consolidation of all three councils into a new council.
The Concho Valley Council, located in San Angelo, Texas, declined to enter into such a study. However, the Comanche Trail Council, on July 25, 2002, at their Executive Board Meeting in Dublin, voted to enter into a study with Chisholm Trail Council. Chisholm Trail Council also voted about the same time to do the same with Comanche Trail Council. On August 6, 2002 a joint meeting was held at Abilene Hendricks Hospital with ten representatives from each council present. Joe Pace, Southern Region Vice-President presided at the meeting. Also present at the meeting was Harold Watson, Area Director, and Benny High for the Southern Region.
The group divided into three study groups that met that afternoon. Task Force Chairmen were Pat Leatherwood for Finance, Gary Stephenson, Administration, Personnel and Legal, and Lee Hamilton, Program and Camping Services. Each group studied the concerns each council had about consolidating the two councils, as well as the advantages of consolidating the councils.
Following that meeting, a series of Town Hall Scout Meetings were held in Stephenville, Hamlin, Brownwood, Abilene, Breckenridge, Coleman and Lampasas to provide "Unification Information" to the volunteers of the respective councils and answer any questions they might have. There were two representatives present from each of the two councils. These meetings went quite well.
On September 19, 2002, Executive Board Meeting, by secret ballot, the Comanche Trail Council voted to continue the process. A transition team of 20 members from both councils were appointed from each council to facilitate the organization of the new council. The team met Wednesday night, October 30, 2003, in the Comanche Trail Council office in Brownwood for orientation and fellowship. Four separate committees were formed and met over the next month to come up with consolidation plans for Administration, Manpower, Finance and Program. The group then came back together to report their respective recommendations for the new council. The plan called for the launching of the new council, complete with new name, on January 1, 2003.
The study committee looked at available manpower, finance, administration and program needs of the area and recommended that Camp Tonkawa and Camp Billy Gibbons continue to operate as summer camps. The present offices in Abilene and Brownwood would remain open and both to continue to have a Scout Shop to serve the needs of Scouters in those areas of the new council. They also recommended the hiring of one or more additional Unit Serving Executives to work closely with units and the institutions that sponsor them from the savings realized from consolidation of professionals and the elimination of one Scout Executive position.
The Transition Team Members:
Comanche Trail Council - Pat Leatherwood, Dublin; Judge Terry McCall, Comanche; Larry Smith, Stephenville; Dr. Tom Cody Graves, Golthwaite; Jim Anderson, Lampasas; and Stanley Walker, Bob Rider, Tully Hair and Joey Ellis of Brownwood. Alternates to the team were Randy Black, Breckenridge and Frank T. Hilton, Brownwood.
Chisholm Trail Council - Kenneth Patton, Haskell; Tersa Beard, Clyde; Tersa Beard, Clyde; Judge Lee Hamilton, Dr. Miller Richert, Dr. Jerry Strader, Gary Stephenson, Dan Fergus, Jr., and Ben McAnally, of Abilene. Alternates to the team were Sue Sloan, Coleman and Wesley Helmer, Merkel.
Voted on Consolidation
A special meeting was called by both councils on Tuesday, October 29, 2002, from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM at the respective service centers. The purpose of the meeting was to vote on the consolidation plan with the other council by the members of the corporation. The corporation consisted of the Council Executive Board and the Charter Representatives. The voting poll was closed at 9:00 PM with both councils approving the consolidation. The new council would serve an 18 County area in Central and West Texas with headquarters based in Abilene using the present Chisholm Trail Council facility.
Pat Leatherwood, President of the Comanche Trail Council said "The decision was a very emotional thing. People were apprehensive about doing this. Change is not always easy." Though leaders felt programs were still of good quality, necessary budget cuts affected outreach. The question of whether or not to unify had been going on for 20 years. It was hoped that savings would come form eliminating duplicate programs, drawing resources from multiple sources and eliminating a major salary associated with a scout executive position.
Contest to Name New Council
A contest was held to name the new council. Names submitted included "Frontier Forts Council," "Lone Star Council," "Texas Forts Trail Council," "Texas Frontier Council," "Texas Trails Council," and "Western Trail Council." Eleven different people had submitted the "Texas Trails Council" name as they felt that there were many wagon and cattle drive trails throughout the stare. Texas had many natural resources when the pioneers ere traveling and they used many trails and saw lots of the resources. "Texas Trails Council" name was selected to be the new name of the council.
At the Comanche Trail Council's final Executive Board Meeting, the consolidation of the two councils was finalized. The final Comanche Trail Council Banquet was held on February 8, 2003, and the final Chisholm Trail Banquet was held on February 20, 2002.
Each council had a long and distinguished history in serving Scouting in their respective area. Comanche Trail Council was organized in 1932 following the merger of the Oil Belt Council, serving Eastland and Stephens Counties, and the Pecan Valley Council serving Erath, Comanche, Mills, Lampasas, San Saba and Brown Counties.
The Chisholm Trail Council was organized in 1926, and included Taylor, Shackelford, Haskell, Jones, Callahan, Coleman and part of Rennels County. In 1954, Nolan, Fisher and Stonewall Counties were transferred from the Buffalo Trail Council, Midland, to the Chisholm Trail Council.
Information for this page was taken from various letters, documents used by the respective councils and newspaper stories from the Brownwood Bulletin.