Scouts in Government Day educates youth about local offices


Tuesday was not just an average day for some local Boy Scouts.

They gathered at Seymour City Hall for the chance to shadow local government officials as a part of the Scouts in Government Day event.

Among the government offices they had the chance to explore were the fire and police departments, airport, clerk/treasurer, the department of public works and the office of Mayor Matt Nicholson.

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Scouts participating this year were John Brockman, Liam Chandler, Cole Ozbun, Dylan Peters, Zack Sturgill, Austin Clark and Wes Miller. They represented Troop 526 and Troop 529 in Seymour.

The day began with Nicholson announcing which government official each scout would be paired up with, and then he asked the honorary mayor for the day, Brockman, to step forward and read the official proclamation for Scouts in Government Day.

Nicholson gave Brockman a tour of Seymour City Hall, where he got a taste of the responsibilities of being mayor.

“There was a lot of stuff I learned today that I didn’t know before, like what was upstairs at city hall,” Brockman said. “I also found out there is a big vault up there that holds a lot of really old record books.”

Brockman learned Jackson County Industrial Development Corp. is housed upstairs at city hall and he also had the chance to chat with the corporation’s Executive Director Jim Plump, who talked about the importance of public speaking and said taking a speech class is a good way to get started.

One of the record books Brockman and Nicholson looked at was dated in the 1800s, which Brockman thought was cool. He later put his signature on the Scouts in Government Day proclamation in the mayor’s office and placed a seal on the document, which he got to keep.

Nicholson talked how this past week, he spent three days traveling and talking to industry leaders with JCIDC, basically getting to know the people a little bit to keep those lines of communication open, which is very important.

As mayor for the day, Brockman obtained some inside knowledge of new projects coming up in the near future for Seymour, and he also tried to hire someone.

Ozbun was police chief for the day and received a tour of the police department with Chief Bryant Lucas. He got to see the day to day operations in various roles in the police station including the patrol room, the detectives office, the records department and the dispatch center.

“I’m looking forward to going to the dispatch the most,” Ozbun said. “It seems like it might be fun to listen to and see what’s happening.”

Ozbun said he watches the television show “9-1-1” and the person at the desk gets a call and sends that message out to police.

“After going through all of the departments here, we’ll have Cole go with a couple of the patrol officers so he can see what their responsibilities are and learn how the dispatch messages are relayed to the officers on their radios,” Lucas said.

At the end of the tour, when asked what he had learned, Ozbun said he mostly learned stuff not to do, and he had the chance to see how handcuffs work.

Sturgill and Peters both visited Seymour fire stations with Fire Chief Brad Lucas and Inspector Mark Gillaspy and tried on firefighting equipment.

Gillaspy, Sgt. Jason O’Neal and Firefighter Mitchell Flinn went over day-to-day operations at Station 1 with the Scouts.

“We got to put on all of the gear, the boots and mask. Then we had to hook ourselves up to the air tank,” Peters said. “The gear was heavy, like about 60 pounds. Then they made us get on our knees and crawl, and it wasn’t very fun.”

Peters said they also got to get on the firetruck and see all of its functions and check out some of the tools firefighters use. Overall, he said he enjoyed being a fireman for the day.

Sturgill said he liked getting to try on the equipment and agreed the gear was pretty heavy, but most of all, it was fun getting to see the firetruck.

Clark visited the recycling department and Seymour Department of Public Works with Director Chad Dixon.

Clark learned how city workers drive a backhoe and was shown where they keep the salt that goes on the streets when the roadways are icy.

“I was curious why the salt inside the building looked blue,” Sturgill said. “I was wondering if that was from a chemical reaction.”

Recycling educator Bernie Bryant, also along for the tour, said with uncolored salt, it can be difficult to tell if a road has been treated, so when the salt is colored, it’s easier to see where the salt has been put down.

Sturgill said during his time as DPW director, he received a street sign with his name on it, and they saw a broken tree.

Chandler learned Clerk-Treasurer Darrin Boas is responsible for keeping the ledger and checkbook.

“It’s my job to make sure everything that comes through this office is properly accounted for,” Boas said. “I have to sign off on all checks and requisitions, and it’s my responsibility to reconcile bank reports monthly and annually.”

Chandler also made a stop at the building commissioners office, where Jeremy Gray gave him a printout of the aerial view of Chandler’s house.

“I liked looking at these historical books with the pictures,” Chandler said. “There are photos of the basketball teams from a long time ago.”

Miller was given a glimpse of what it takes to work at Freeman Municipal Airport with Airport Manager Don Furlow. He gained knowledge about airplanes and bombers, which he thought was pretty cool.

After the busy afternoon, the scouts and city officials returned to city hall, where Nicholson held a question-and-answer period, allowing the scouts and their parents to ask questions and to share the boys’ experiences from the event.

Larry Meyer, Boy Scout volunteer, and Dale Siefker, Hoosier Trails Council executive board member, were both on hand for the annual event, something they have helped orchestrate for many years.

“I’ve been helping with the Scouts since the 1980s, and Dale has been in it for a long time,” Meyer said.

Dale’s wife, Mary Lou Siefker, said every adult registered to help with scouting must have youth protection training.

“One of the key factors in that training is that whenever someone goes with a Scout, there has to be two adults present,” Siefker said. “A lot of people don’t realize that is a big part of the Scout program, and it’s a protection for not only the youth but the officials, too.”

Siefker said Scouts in Government Day has been a really important program with the scouting movement, and it’s conducted this time each year to celebrate when Boy Scouts of America was officially founded, Feb. 8, 1910.

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