Pack 400 Cubmaster Ken Koch holds the Big Bear Award for Pack of the Year at the Nantahala District Awards Banquet.When David Baker was invited to play cupid, he had only one week to get his outfit ready. Baker called a teacher from the John C. Campbell Folk School and asked “can you make me a curlycue (funky hat) that drips of Valentines?” She did, and got the hat to Baker to finish off his outfit just in time. Photo by BEN KATZ

SCOUTING AROUND: Murphy Cub Scouts honored, Arts celebrated

   Murphy’s Cub Scout Pack 400 was named Pack of the Year at the annual Nantahala District Awards Banquet at Andrews United Methodist Church on Saturday night.
    “I’m walking on air,” said Cubmaster Ken Koch. “Pack of the Year means we are headed in the right direction as a Pack, and that we are bringing excitement, adventure and fun to the boys. The Pack of the Year award, to me, is the boys’ award. They won this award, not I. It’s their enthusiasm and excitement that propelled us to win.”
    In addition to the top award for the entire group, leaders from the pack won several awards. Koch, in his first year in the role, was named Cubmaster of the Year and received a Cub Scout Den Leaders Award. Michelle Brooks also got a Cub Scout Den Leaders award, as well as the Scouter of the Year Award. The Scout Spirit Award went to Kristie Harbin. The Life Line Award was given to Angela Henningfeld and Craig Rummler. The Trailblazer Award was given to Dallas McMillan and Rob Young. Wayne Spong was named Commissioner of the Year.
    Koch said he had the best leaders, who planned new ideas for activities for the boys at the beginning of the year, and made those ideas a reality. He said they also followed through on ideas the boys suggested.
    Murphy’s Boy Scout Troop 400 did not walk away from the banquet empty-handed, either. Assistant Scoutmaster Steve Smith was given a Trailblazer Award.
    The Nantahala District is one of five districts in the Daniel Boone Council which manages Boy Scouts of America programs in the western region of the state. Both Pack and Troop 400 are sponsored by the First United Methodist Church in Murphy.

Love shown for arts
    Love for the arts, chocolate and wine filled the Murphy Art Center on Valentine’s Day for the Cherokee County Arts Council’s We Love the Arts fundraiser.
    “We’re here to support the arts,” said Iris DeRosa. “And, who doesn’t love chocolate and wine?”
    Eighty-nine people supported the arts during the event, raising $1,100. Half of those funds will be used for the Resident Artist summer program, and the remainder will go toward the Judith Beyer Music Scholarship fund, said David Vowell, the arts council director.
    Participants were first greeted by Shelly Stephens and Diane Bishop in the council’s center gallery, and offered a wine glass to carry with them from table to table. At each table, there were instructions to sip the wine, allow the chocolate to melt in the mouth, then take another sip of wine. Council board members were at each chocolate and wine pairing table to pour wine and provide information about the pairings.
    After trying each of the four pairings, people could then go the classroom area for glass of their favorite wine poured by Doyle Smith, and sample chocolate-covered strawberries, candy conversation hearts and cheese. They could also get a photo with Valentine props taken by Nathan Baerreis.
    Many spent the time socializing, some even getting the chance to meet Cupid, as played by David Baker.
    Door prizes included a dozen roses bouquet, a heart-shaped box of jerky and a framed poster reproduction of Gustav Klimt’s “The Lovers.” The raffle grand prize of $200 dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse was won by Bishop.
    In past years, the council has held a speakeasy fundraising event on Valentine’s Day. Vowell said the attendance for both events was similar, but that proceeds and expenses were less for the new event.
    “For the preparation effort and expense, I was pleased with the resulting funds raised,” Vowell said. “Partly, of course, because we all had fun and half the attendees had never seen the Murphy Art Center before that event.”

Club raises funds for Malala
    At this month’s Happy Hour Book Club, the book inspired more than reading.
    The group, organized by the Curiosity Shop, read I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb, and during the discussion of the book last week, they decided to become a part of the young lady’s cause to support education around the world.
    “I was so inspired by her travels and fundraising for schools, and now especially for Syrian children, that I decided ahead of time that I’d challenge the group to make a contribution to the Malala Fund through the bookstore at,” said Linda Ray, who facilitated the discussion of the book.
    Originally, the group was going to donate as a club, but they decided to expand contributions to the community. Curiosity Shop owners Kerry Archer and Anne Silver are encouraging people to donate directly to Malala Fund at They will also collect donations in person at the store.
    “What we all learned in that discussion is don’t think anything is too big to do for you as an individual,” Archer said. “This fund is a way of reflecting on her mission, her cause.”
    A version of the book is one of the books middle school students are reading for the Battle of Books competition, so they know book’s reach already extends past the club.
    Yousafzai is known for her and her family’s work to campaign for education for girls, and in 2011 was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. In 2012, she was shot in the head by Taliban on her way home from school. The Malala Fund was founded in 2013. Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.
    Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email,; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message at 837-5122.