Scouts to honor Otsego deputy


An Otsego County sheriff’s deputy has been named as this year’s Boy Scouts of America, Leatherstocking Council’s Distinguished Citizen Community Leadership Award winner.

Deputy James Mateunas was one of several people nominated for the award, said Paul Van der Kruik, district executive of the Susquehanna Headwaters District.

According to the Leatherstocking Council’s website, the The BSA Community Leadership Award is presented to those who exemplify in their daily lives the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America as expressed in the Scout Oath and Law. The recipients are chosen “for their outstanding community service as evidenced by the interest and leadership given to many worthwhile organizations as well as the respect and esteem to which they are held by their colleagues,” the website said.

Van der Kruik said a panel reviewed the nominees and Mateunas was chosen based on his “distinguished service to the community, his selfless volunteerism, continuous acts of service to our youth and outstanding leadership qualities.” 

He said Mateunas earned the rank of life scout and is a member of the Order of the Arrow, which is scouting’s national honor society. He said Mateunas was a staff member at the Crumhorn mountain camp as a youth. According to the biography in a media release, Mateunas worked as an assistant on the rifle range one summer and was a quartermaster the following summer.

He is a 1993 graduate of Cooperstown Central School and received an associates degree in ecology and environmental technology from Paul Smith’s College, the release said. He was hired as a corrections officer at the Otsego County’s Sheriff’s Office in 2000, the same year he married his wife Donna. He and his wife have two children.

Mateunas was promoted to deputy sheriff in 2007, the release said. He was injured in the line of duty in May 2019 when his vehicle was struck head-on by a man who was fleeing from the state police.

Van der Kruik said the award has been given out since 2017. Previous award recipients include former U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson and state Sen. James Seward.

“Every one of our recipients were Boy Scouts when they were young,” Van der Kruik said. “This just goes to show our program creates great leaders.”

Mateunas will receive the award during the Distinguished Citizens Award Dinner at the Otesaga Resort in Cooperstown on Thursday, Dec. 9, the release said. Hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction will begin at 6 p.m., and the dinner and program will begin at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $125 each or a table of eight for $1,000.

The Leatherstocking Council serves Scouts in Delaware, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Otsego and Schoharie counties. For more information about the dinner, call James Hastie at 315-735-4437, ext. 223.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.

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