As honorary mayor of Seymour, Alex Sturgill has a few ideas of how to make the city better.

Most of them involve creating more activities and things for kids to do.

“I would like to see a park where kids could go to do Airsoft or paintball,” said Sturgill, a student at the Seymour Sixth Grade Center.

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On Tuesday afternoon, Sturgill and nine other Boy Scouts took over the city as part of the annual Scouts in Government Day. Each Scout was paired with a city official to learn more about how local government functions.

The boys were from troops 526 and 529 in Seymour and ranged from fifth- to seventh-graders.

After signing an official proclamation for Scouts in Government Day, Sturgill received a tour of city hall, beginning with Mayor Craig Luedeman’s office. While sitting at the mayor’s desk, Sturgill learned more about the responsibilities of running the city.

“I don’t think I would like all the paperwork,” Sturgill said while glancing around at the stacks of papers and documents, including budget information and plans for projects.

But Sturgill learned there are perks, too, as Luedeman described how sometimes the mayor gets to meet famous people, such as Miss America 2009 Katie Stam, a Seymour native, receive awards for the city and travel to Japan and other countries to try to bring more jobs here.

As part of his experience, Sturgill had the opportunity to attend a meeting of the Jackson County Bank Trust Fund where it was decided what local organizations would receive more than $18,000 in grant funds.

Sturgill said he enjoyed spending time with the mayor and was glad he had the opportunity to learn about government through Scouting.

“I like basically everything about it,” Sturgill said of being a Boy Scout. “I get to learn how to make a campfire, use a knife properly and go to summer camp.”

Scoutmaster Larry Meyer of Seymour said Scouts in Government Day is a valuable lesson for the boys, and he appreciates city officials for their willingness to participate.

“Hopefully, they learn what it takes to run the city from the perspective of different positions,” Meyer said.

It’s also a good way to spark an interest in boys about possible future careers, said Scoutmaster Dale Siefker.

“They are getting more insight into citizenship,” Siefker said.

Both Meyer and Siefker said they can recall participating in a similar activity when they were Scouts back in the 1960s.

Sixth-grader Enrique Vidales took on the job of city building commissioner, spending the afternoon with Jeremy Gray.

Gray showed Vidales how to conduct inspections to make sure electricity and plumbing were installed correctly in homes. After working hard, Gray and Vidales took a break and made a quick visit to Orange Leaf for a treat.

Although he found the job more interesting than he first thought it would be, Vidales’ future career plans don’t include being a building commissioner.

“I want to be a cardiologist,” Vidales said.

“I told him I thought that was a better career choice,” Gray said.

After the experience, Vidales said he now has a better appreciation for what Gray does.

“I didn’t know everything that went into his job,” Vidales said.

Fifth-grader Adriano Caceres had the opportunity to shadow Carla Warner with the Water Pollution Control Facility.

“It was really fun, and I learned a lot,” he said. “I learned about how they clean the water before it goes into the river.”

Even though he had a good time, Caceres said he didn’t know if water pollution control was the right job for him.

“Maybe,” he said. “I don’t really know.”

Luedeman said he enjoys spending a couple hours with a Scout every year.

“It teaches them what we actually do,” he said. “A lot of times, you see us out in the public, but you really don’t know what we do. Plus, it gives them an idea of what they could do in the future, maybe mayor, maybe department of public works, maybe the parks department. There’s a lot of different jobs within the city that they could do.”

At a glance

Boy Scouts participating in Scouts in Government Day

Alex Sturgill, mayor

Chase Rogers, police chief

Isaac Perez, assistant police chief

Peter Jackson, fire chief

William Smith, assistant fire chief

Austin Stoffregen, parks department director

Alex Landes, director of public works

Austin Clark, recycling department

Enrique Vidales, building commissioner

Adriano Caceres, water pollution control

Carter Murphy, airport manager

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.