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Orem Scouts get $1.2 million gift

Donation will be used to help build new service center

A $1.2 million gift will help Boy Scouts get a new service center in Orem.

The gift to the Utah National Parks Council by an anonymous couple was made Thursday at a Scouting gala in Ogden and will honor long-time local Scouter John L. Cross, 82, and his late wife Violet G. Cross. John Cross' father knew Lord Baden-Powell, who founded the organization in England in 1910, said Don Savage, endowment director for the council.

It is the largest gift ever to the Scouting council, Scout officials said. It will become the lead gift in the capital campaign effort to raise money for the new service center, said Paul Clyde, volunteer president of the council.

The anonymous donors, who want the focus to be on the Crosses, have asked that their identity not be revealed until this summer. They challenged 12 other donors to ante up $100,000 each over the next 90 days, Savage said. That would raise enough money to build the new $1.8 million facility which will be built on three acres north of 400 North on 1200 West in Orem. It would also create a permanent endowment to cover annual maintenance and operating costs, he said.

Once those other donors are lined up, all names will be made public, he said. The $1.2 million gift represents half the donation with future donors representing the other half, Savage said.

"Plans for the building have been in the works for years," Savage said. The endowment director has been concentrating on getting donors for the past six months.

The announcement was a surprise for Cross. Cross and his late wife have served Scouting for decades. Cross still serves as council historian. His family has served Scouting for four generations, officials said in a press release.

Thirty-six of Cross' family members were present to witness the event, including all his children, Savage said.

For more than 40 years the council has worked out of a building at 250 W. 500 North in Provo. Construction on the new building should start later this year with completion slated for next spring.

The National Parks Council extends from Point of the Mountain at the Utah County and Salt Lake County line south, taking in small sections of Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. It serves 60,000 Boy Scouts and 30,000 adult volunteers. It encompasses 4,500 Scouting units and is the 12th largest council in the country.