Melita Island deal done

Melita Island deal done

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Boy Scouts of Montana finally are the official owners of their longtime summer camp on Flathead Lake's Melita Island.

The Fred and Harriet Cox family transferred ownership of the 65-acre island to the Montana Council of the Boy Scouts of America on Monday, according to Doug Anderson of Missoula, executive director of the fund-raising campaign to purchase the island.

"Now it's ours," Anderson said. "They nailed the deal last night."

Melita Island has been a Boy Scout camp since the mid-1930s, under temporary loan from the Cox family, Anderson said Tuesday.

"But now the boys own it," he said. "Not only did we raise the money, but we bought it. The Scouts intend to honor their pledge to keep the island, always, as a beautiful and natural Boy Scout camp."

Work will begin on upgrades to facilities on the island "to bring it up to a first-class Boy Scout camp," as soon as weather permits, Anderson said.

The Scouts raised almost $1.8 million to meet a Dec. 31 deadline for payment of $1.5 million to the Cox family. The fund-raising campaign will continue through Dec. 31, 2005, to raise the remaining portion of a total goal of $3.1 million, Anderson said.

Anderson said the additional money will be used to complete work at Melita Island, as well as improvements at the three other Montana Boy Scout camps - K-M Scout Ranch near Lewistown, Camp Arcola in the Pintlar Mountains and Grizzly Base Camp south of Glacier National Park.

At the beginning of December, things didn't look promising for the Scouts' campaign, with only about $300,000 in the coffers. Then an anonymous donor gave them a major boost with a $1 million donation.

Depending on the progress of work at Melita Island, Anderson said, the Scouts may not hold a formal camp there this year.

"Maybe we'll have informal camps," he said. "Probably work camps. We want it to be really pretty."

Reporter Daryl Gadbow can be reached at 523-5264 or at dgadbow@missoulian.com

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