by Brandon Kathman, Boy Scouts of America
The Boy Scouts of America’s local Withlacoochee District has announced that Judge Stephen Toner will assume the role of District Chairman over its local programs for 2021.
“Scouting was there for me when I was young; it provided me with a framework for life and helped me shape my world,” Toner said. “As a circuit court judge, I draw from my Scouting experience to make positive change for the citizens I serve, especially my little citizens in Dependency Court. My goal in Scouting has been to help provide the program that was there for me when I was a boy.”
Toner, an Eagle Scout and elected member of Florida’s Fifth Judicial Circuit, officially took over the chairman position on January 14, presiding over his first monthly committee meeting. The district committee consists of local community leaders and Scout volunteers and is dedicated to providing engaging and safe programs for young people. According to volunteers, Toner was nominated for the role and confirmed by unanimous consent at their December business meeting.
“I’m really excited about it,” Pauline Zerbe, the chairwoman over civic service, said. “As an Eagle Scout, he knows all the ins and outs. He can jump in with both feet and hit the ground running. I think he’s going to do well. I think he’s already doing well.”
Toner grew up with Scouting in Camden, New Jersey. A graduate of Stetson University, he practiced law in Hernando and Citrus Counties for 22 years, earning great respect as a confident and level-headed attorney. When he ran for the seat vacated by retiring Judge Daniel Merritt, also an Eagle Scout, he did so unopposed. Today, he is not the only Eagle Scout to serve on the Fifth Circuit; Judge Richard Howard’s Scout uniform is on display for all to see at the Citrus County Courthouse in Inverness.
Scouting’s Withlacoochee District, which consists of almost 50 units across Hernando, Citrus and Sumter Counties, has expanded its programs over the past three years, even launching new units through 2020. John Coble, who held the district chair position from 2018 through 2020, will now serve as the district commissioner and provide direct support for local troops and packs to continue facilitating that growth.
“I feel this mix of seasoned and younger Scouters is the best team our district has seen in some time,” Coble said. “We’ve hit plateaus we never reached before.”
To learn more about opportunities to volunteer with local Scouting, please contact the Withlacoochee District Office at 352-459-9375.