‘Away In A Manger’: Scouts make display for governor
In front of the Governor’s Mansion is a life-like manger scene featuring rustic beams and cypress slabs built by Brookhaven Boy Scouts Troop 119.
Scoutmaster Joseph Alonzo Fernald Jr. is the troop’s leader. He said the troop completed the project under troop guide Luke Howell.
“It was a leadership project that he initiated and completed,” Fernald said of Howell. “Sometimes we have to take hold of an opportunity when it presents itself.”
Fernald explained that the project was conceived by Howell after a meeting with Mississippi’s first lady Deborah Bryant.
“Luke Howell is my former senior patroller,” he said. “This year he is a troop guide. I give him the credit for all of it.”
Fernald said it so happened that the first lady was having Sunday dinner in Howell’s home and mentioned the mansion’s need for a new nativity scene.
“The governor’s wife was eating dinner in his home, she mentioned a need, so he came up with the project. He and Lester Powell built it. They scouted for the [cypress] slabs and then the troop helped finish putting the entire thing together.”
Fernald said he is proud of the leadership and initiative Howell showed with the project. Howell is heading for Eagle Scout next year, Fernald said.
“He’s responsible for conceiving it and heading it up,” Fernald brags of the young leader. “He will be an Eagle Scout, and he did a good job with this troop. I had really little to do with it.
“They did it. It’s my responsibility to make sure they’re successful,” said Fernald, who has been active with Boy Scouts since 1973, and a troop leader since 1991.
“I think they were successful,” he said “We’re proud of the job they did. They’ll have plenty of mistakes to deal with in the next 50 to 70 years, so I think it’s important to let ’em know when they’ve done a good job, and they did good.”
The manger scene will be on display during the holiday season in front of the Governor’s Mansion through the end of December.
Fernald noted that Howell’s leadership is different than most – he was a behind-the-scenes kind of worker.
“Leadership is not always a noisy thing,” Fernald said of Howell, “Sometimes it’s quiet.”