VANCOUVER, Wash. - On Feb. 28, the American Red Cross Board of Governors granted the merger of operations of the Clark County Chapter, based in Vancouver, with the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum-Pacific Counties Chapter, based in Longview, effective March 1.

At the newly formed Chapter's first board of directors meeting, action was taken to name the chapter, which is now called the Southwest Washington Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Over the next several months the chapter will be consolidating business and communications systems, human resources, training, and all other operations. Eric Merrill, chairman of the newly merged chapter's board of directors, said "we will all be focused on providing efficient Red Cross services wherever and whenever they are needed."

Nationally, many Red Cross chapters have been consolidating operations to save administrative and overhead costs and to upgrade the capacity of their services.

"We share a commitment throughout the Red Cross to serve all people in need, regardless of geographic area," said Chapter Executive Director Sheryl Beauchaine.

The merger created one chapter which is responsible for the communities in Pacific, Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. The current four Red Cross buildings in Vancouver, Longview, Ilwaco, and Raymond will remain open and staffed to serve the community. Staffing remains at the same level and will be managed by one executive director.

Elected to be the merged chapter's first vice chairman was Bob Ryan, owner of the Corner Cafe in Raymond.

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