Cataloochee District banquet honors Scout volunteers

By Shelby Harrell | Mar 07, 2017
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Kenny Mills is presented with the Ray Romano Spirit of Scouting Award by Sue Persons, Eric Hester and Kirby Thompson.

CULLOWHEE — It was an evening of dining, music and celebrating at the Ramsey Center of Western Carolina University last Friday night when the Cataloochee District Boy Scout/Cub Scout volunteers gathered for an awards banquet to recognize “The Best in the West.”

Nearly 100 awards/certificates were handed out to volunteers and leaders who gave their time and support to the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts of the Cataloochee District in 2016. These volunteers serve as the glue that holds the district together so that all the events are successful, making a positive impact on the lives of the Scouts.

Cataloochee District Commissioner Sue Persons was the emcee of the event.

The district is made up of 14 Boy Scout troops, 14 Cub Scout troops, two Ship Sea Scout groups and three Venture Crews.

Among individual recognition, there were also several awards given out to the volunteers who went above and beyond.

This year, the District Award of Merit was given to two women committee members, Chris Deaver of Cub Scout Pack 370 and Shelley Fanucci of Cub Scout Pack 999. This award is given to committee members or leaders who render service of an outstanding nature at the district level.

“I’m just completely shocked,” Fanucci said, about receiving the award. “I wasn’t expecting this, but it means everything. I love Scouting and what it gives to the boys.”

Deaver was even more surprised to win the award since she has only been working with the Scouts for three years.

“I’m extremely surprised considering it’s only my third year,” Deaver said. “When I became Cub Scout district program chair, I arranged five different events, and I met a lot of people who wanted to help and that gave me even more ambition. It’s all about giving back to the kids — it’s all about their happy faces.”

Deaver also received the District Sparkplug Award this year, as did Peggy Jones, the Cataloochee District training chair, Scott Nelson and Bobby Young. The District Sparkplug Award honors that person in the group that provides that “spark” that keeps the program on track.

District on the Right Track Awards were also given to William Underwood, Everett Rollins III, Fanucci and Mary Morse.

Longtime Scout volunteer Kenny Mills was honored and overwhelmed after receiving the Ray Romano Spirit of Scouting award this year. Mills, who has a part of Scouts for more than two decades, works with Boy Scout Troop 316 and Cub Scout Pack 316.

Awards were also given out to the Boy Scout Troop of the Year and Cub Scout Pack of the Year.

This year, Troop 370 won Troop of the Year, which is led by Scoutmaster Ron Perusi, who also serves as the program chair for the district.

“I want to thank all my leaders and parents for making us the troop that we are,” Perusi said.

In addition, Cub Scout Pack 370 won Pack of the Year.

“Winning was unexpected but a testament to all the adult leaders here,” said Chad Messer, Cubmaster of Pack 370. “We’ve pulled in a lot more Scouts and when the kids get involved, the parents are involved, and they are really the life of the pack. Without adults, we can’t do anything.”

Terry Davis, committee chairman of Troop 370 and Pack 370, said these awards reflected the great leadership of both groups.

“We have a good, strong leadership and a lot of dedicated leaders,” Davis said. “It builds camaraderie and it takes teamwork. I’m excited for it to help the pack grow. It gives us a little prestige in scouting and it gives us the opportunity to better our pack.”

Steve Morse, from Troop 999, was also named Scouter of the Year. In addition, Scoutmaster of the year went to Bron Holcombe, who leads Troop 316, and  Cubmaster of the Year award was given to Blair Tourney, who leads Pack 914.

For more information about the Cataloochee District, visit