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Posted April 26, 2012 | comments 7 Comments

Boy Scout leader defends public speaker

By Sally Voth -- svoth@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Two young Boy Scouts who participated in a Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors' public hearing have nothing to apologize for, according to their scout leader.

Stuart Williams, the scout executive and CEO of the Boy Scouts of America's Shenandoah Area Council, apologized on behalf of the boys at Tuesday's supervisors' meeting.

French and another scout in uniform spoke up toward the end of the public hearing, Williams said. He said the council had gotten complaints that the boys were disrespectful and seemed to be speaking on behalf of the BSA since they were in uniform.

"Unfortunately, their mannerisms were disrespectful, and I'm here to apologize for that and discuss that a little bit further," he said.

Boy Scout Jacob French was one of the boys who addressed the Board of Supervisors during an April 17 public hearing on the proposed fiscal 2013 budget at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School. That meeting featured many speakers who called on supervisors to support additional school funding, while others talked about their disdain for the regional jail project.

"If it takes a 12-year-old kid to come up here and tell you we don't need a new jail and we need better education, then that's pretty sad. Here I am, an A, B student in my school, and I have to come up to," he said, pausing to count aloud, "nine people just to say we don't need this new jail. Bye."

Williams told the supervisors the boys didn't mean to offend the supervisors or any other elected officials.

Lisa Currie is the scout master for Boy Scout Troop 575, based in Woodstock.

"I don't think that it needed an apology," she said this week. "It was at the end of the meeting. They had been sitting there for 2 1/2 hours. They were champing at the bit to make a comment."

Currie said the Scouts were at the meeting to work towards their Citizenship in the Community merit badges. She said the badge is to help the boys understand how their community operates, how their tax dollars work, and what their role is as citizens.

"Picking on little boys, that's my question," Currie said of the fallout surrounding the boys' comments. "Don't they want our children to learn to be involved in their communities and to understand their role as they mature? Do we chastise them when they feel like they have a role? [Jacob] didn't steal anything, he didn't break anything, he didn't do anything wrong, except voice his 12-year-old opinion."

Currie said she'd counseled the scouts to be respectful and quiet during the meeting, but for the boys to sit there so long without leaving was surprising.

"Jacob always has a question," she said.

He's also brave, one of the 12 Boy Scout's Laws, she said.

Another Scout leader, Steve Snarr, was at the meeting on April 17.

"I think the youngest one got a little bit off track as far as the jail was not a budget issue this year to my understanding," he said Thursday. "Only problem I had was I thought that Mr. French probably wasn't quite as respectful as he should've been, and I had that discussion with him afterwards."

Currie, who is the mother of two grown Eagle Scouts, said she didn't think either boy was being disrespectful.

"I think they were both boys," she said. "I didn't think they said anything disrespectful. The supervisors asked if anyone [else] wanted to speak. That's like waving a red flag in front of a bull with Jacob French. He was dying to speak at that point."

Jacob didn't say he was speaking on behalf of the Scouts, said Currie, who has been involved with BSA for 17 years. She said the incident has left Jacob feeling as though he's done something wrong.

"My boys are good boys," Currie said. "They're good boys, and Jacob French is a brave boy. He is precocious. There's nothing wrong with that. He's curious and he's eager and he's personable. Those are all traits that we all want in adults."

She said she'd take responsibility for her troop's actions.

"I always accept full responsibility for my boys because I'm their leader, and I want them to grow up to know that they have a real role to play in the community," Currie said. "Scouts is a wonderful organization to make young boys into great men."

7 Comments | Leave a comment

    Good for you Lisa !
    We know that you always stick up for your
    boys.
    We didn't think anything was wrong about
    his comment neither and that an apology
    was not in order.

    God Bless you Lise Currie! You are a fine example of leadership, a caring heart and standing up for what is right in this world. I think the BSA have found a replacement for the scout executive and CEO of the Boy Scouts of America's Shenandoah Area Council as well. Lisa you are just what young men and women need for advancing the common good of our community.

    Ms. Volt great follow up, I think this ends the story on a very, very positive note.

    As for Mr. Williams and the SC Board of Supervisors, you're never to old to learn a thing or two. Humble out and learn why God calls us to come to him as a 'child'.

    I am not sorry to agree with Lisa on this subject. As the parent of an Eagle scout myself, I know how hard these young men have to work to receive their merit badges. They learn a lot of values in scouting and I have not read anything that makes me think that Jacob was disrespectful in any way. He is a young man with an opinion, and we have all been taught that we should not be afraid to voice our opinions in life. So why is it so bad for a twelve year old to have his opinion. Come on people, who are the adults here? When my son was in the scouting program he had to write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper and because he had an opinion that some others did not like, he even received hate mail, of course the person writing to him was not BRAVE enough to even sign their name. So I say to you Jacob French, good for you, one of these days you will grow up to be a fine young man with morals.

    Good for you Lisa!! Thank you for being a wonderful example of what bravery is, and for standing up for this little boy. Shame on the adults that would pick on a 12 year old child for speaking his mind!! If the board of supervisors, or any adult for that matter, was offended by what a child said - then maybe they should take a look at their character and rethink their position in this community. A 12 year old child is very impressionable and for an adult to knock that child down for being brave enough to speak infront of an entire room full of adults is shamefull!!! As far as I am concerned, Mr. Williams should never have apologized - these boys didn't do anything horrible, and the board should not have expected an apology - SERIOUSLY! The NVD shouldn't of even made it an issue and published a story about this child, to make him feel more shamed! It should have been dropped at the door the night of the meeting!!!

    I attended the public hearing at which the two Boy Scouts spoke. During the meeting I observed the group of boys being attentive, respectful and engaged in the public's views. Jacob in particular would react with applause upon hearing a view that he agreed with. I do not feel that the comments made by him or the other scout were disrespectful. I was quite impressed that these young men felt moved to voice their opinion on the subject at hand. They spoke clearly and distinctly, much better than some of the adults who spoke that evening. I am dissapointed that, if the story is correct, the BOS requested an apology. Was this not a PUBLIC HEARING to hear PUBLIC COMMENTS? I for one do not want to quell the passion of participation in our youth. We should embrace their desire to become involved as they are our future, and from what I have seen, our future is a bright one!

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    The Board of Supervisors must have very thin skins to require a public apology from an individual who was not witness to the comments made by these individuals. The Board will realize thier mistake unfortunatly we the tax payers will pay for it. Republicans of the county take notice of this as we all will have to make a choice for the counties future during the 2013 election for our new Board of Supivisors.

    It seems lately if you disagree with the BOS in Shenandoah County you are "disrepectful" even when you have spoken in a respectful tone before them.... time for some BOS who will listen to county residents who do speak before them "respectfully" and will actually hear residents even when they disagree.

    And really what did we teach these young men? GROW UP BOARD of SUPERVISORS or better yet VOTE OUT!!!!


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