• From left, Nantahala District commissioner Phil Keller, district executive Emily Heffernan and district Chairman Eddie Hollifield (far right) present Nenia Thompson of Andrews Pack 401 with the District Award of Merit during the Boy Scouts Nantahala District Awards Banquet on Monday. This award is the highest honor given during the annual ceremony.

SCOUTING AROUND: District honors Boy Scout leaders

   Boy Scouts of America leaders from Cherokee County won several awards at the Nantahala District Awards on Monday night.
   Bob Hardin of Andrews’ Boy Scout Troop 401 was named Scoutmaster of the Year. Hardin, known as “Pop” to Scouts, has been Scoutmaster for the troop for the last 10 years. He first got involved with the troop when his oldest son joined in 1997.
   Troop 401 has eight boys, three who are Life Scouts – the rank before Eagle – and five of whom are younger brothers of Eagle Scouts.
   “The most rewarding thing is seeing these young men become Eagle Scouts, and I’ve been fortunate to see about 16 boys become Eagle Scouts through our troop,” Hardin said.
   He added that the happiest thing is seeing a boy accomplish something positive, and seeing the reaction from the boy when he realizes it.
   This year was a challenge for Hardin, as more boys than usual also were playing sports. He worked with the boys, even changing meetings to once every two weeks instead of every week, to help them accomplish their goals in both sports and Scouting.
   “We didn’t want to run off and leave behind the ones who play sports,” Hardin said. He is grateful for supportive parents backing the troop.
   Andrews’ Cub Scout Pack 401 leaders Kathy Bryant and Nenia Thompson were given the Life Line Award and District Award of Merit, respectively.
   Murphy’s Cub Pack 400 also walked away with awards for its leaders. Ken Koch was named Scouter of the Year, Michelle Brooks was given the Scout Spirit Award, Veronica McMahon was given the Life Line Award, Tasha Black was given the Trailblazer Award and Caitlin Newsome received the Den Leader Award. Wayne Spong was named Commissioner of the Year.
   The Nantahala District consists of units in Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties.

Arts guild seeking artists
   Throughout April, the Valley River Arts Guild is holding a membership drive. As part of the drive, artists may join for a $20 membership fee, instead of the usual $45 annual membership fee. The membership is valid through August.
   Anyone interested in joining or learning more about the guild may attend the prospective member open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 14. Artists will meet members then and can learn more about the opportunities available.
   Artists of all mediums are invited to join. Benefits include getting to display and sell art in the gallery at the Murphy Art Center downtown.
   The Valley River Arts Guild is a non-profit organization focused on supporting local artists, with a mission to encourage the understanding and appreciation of art in the area. It also acts as an educational resource and provides support to artists.
   The guild manages the First Friday Murphy Art Walk from May though November, coordinates the annual Student Art Show and hosts MACkey Mouse Art Club classes for children. It also offers space for artists to teach art classes.
   To join, artists are asked to visit the MAC, 33 Valley River Ave., for a membership package.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.