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Megan Card, Published July 25 2012

Northern Lights Council moves into new Fargo Boy Scouts center

FARGO – After four years of planning and construction, the $4.3 million Jon L. Wanzek Center for Scouting in south Fargo is expected to open its doors as early as Monday.

The new 15,000-square-foot headquarters for the Northern Lights Council of the Boy Scouts of America is at 42nd Street South and 19th Avenue across from the Schlossman branch of the YMCA.

“It is such an exciting time,” Mark Holtz, Scout executive of the Northern Lights Council, said of the move from the current downtown location at 301 7th St. S. “We’re packing up offices and looking to the future.”

The center, which broke ground a year ago, reflects the health and vitality of the Scout organization, said Doug Restemayer, chairman of the building committee.

“We’ve been at the existing facility since 1966, and its age is definitely reflected in its condition,” he said. “The new center represents the youthfulness of the organization, and its design has an outdoorsy feel to it.”

Symbolism was also evident in the design, Restemayer said. Twelve massive rafters on the ceiling represent the 12 points of Boy Scout Law. A 5-foot-tall glass window holds the fleur-de-lis, the emblem of the World Organization of the Scout Movement.

Symbolism aside, the center also features a 3,000-square-foot Scout store, a 3,000-square-foot training center for Scouts and volunteers, and conference rooms for community and member use.

The new center is five times the size of the current building and is more representative of the regional organization, said Steve McLister, Northern Lights Council president.

“Most people view the building they are in now as just a local organization, but the new building represents the entire council,” he said.

More than 14,000 Scouts and 4,000 volunteers are part of the Northern Lights Council.

The center’s initial donation and namesake came from Jon and Lori Wanzek of Fargo.

Wanzek, who became an Eagle Scout in 1978, said he saw firsthand the leadership development attributed to Boy Scouts, and he was eager to help the organization.

“I remember going to Camp Wilderness (the 2,400-acre Boy Scout camp north of Park Rapids, Minn.) and learning so much about character development as a kid,” he said. “With the new facility, I hope present and future Scouts will be able to do the same.”

A donor reception for the facility is scheduled next Wednesday, with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the center’s grand opening scheduled at 11 a.m. Aug. 16.

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