August Carlino, right, president and chief executive officer of Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp., speaks at the announcement Monday of the merger of Rivers of Steel with RiverQuest. Attending the event are Jim Roddey, left, president of RiverQuest, and Frank Reed, center, chairman of Rivers of Steel.
By Amy Brooks / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The narrow metal dock that connects RiverQuest’s boat, Explorer, to land was built 20 years ago with the help of Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp.
So it was fitting that before officially announcing Monday an intended merger of the two organizations, members of both nonprofits had to cross the dock and board the Explorer.
No money will be exchanged with the signing of the merger, which is planned for Sept. 1. But according to a news release, Rivers of Steel will have the power to name new members to RiverQuest’s board of directors and cuts may be made to the RiverQuest staff of seven full-time and 25 part-time workers to eliminate overlapping positions.
Officials said they still have to work out details of the arrangement, but RiverQuest, which runs a river-based environmental sciences program, will continue its educational mission as a program of Rivers of Steel.
“We look forward to continuing RiverQuest’s 20 years of service to the Pittsburgh region and to building upon our total of more than 100,000 students learning the importance of the history, ecology and importance of our area’s waterways,” RiverQuest president Jim Roddey said.
“We are debt-free and will be going into this merger with no obligations at all other than our obligation to education,” he said.
RiverQuest began to feel the effects of budget cuts by local school districts several years ago. RiverQuest formerly charged districts $30 for a student to attend field trips on the Explorer. With the cutbacks, the nonprofit provided the trips at no charge, but at the same time, it cut its budget from $2.2 million to about $1.1 million.
RiverQuest currently relies on a few paying school districts, private charters and donations for revenue. In 2014, the organization received a $50,000 Heinz Endowments grant.
In April 2014, Mr. Roddey announced that if the group could not find a merger partner, it would have to cease operations. Two months later, it began talks with Rivers of Steel Heritage Corp.
Rivers of Steel manages the Rivers of Steel National Heritage area, which is one of 49 National Heritage areas in the U.S. designated by Congress. Its mission is not only to conserve natural resources but also to preserve the industrial, cultural and recreational resources of southwestern Pennsylvania.
August Carlino, president and CEO of Rivers of Steel, said, “[The merger] is making two organizations that are incredibly important to this region come together and that much stronger.”
Amy Brooks: email@example.com, 412-263-1408. First Published June 22, 2015 1:31 PM
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