Little hands found candy baskets more intriguing than stacks of paperwork or monologues about property taxes, but the lively Cub Scouts of Pack 235 enthusiastically toured old jail cells and darkened off-limits passageways at Natrona County's downtown courthouse Tuesday afternoon.
"Each of [the scouts] is working toward their rank," den mom Liz Bishop said. The Cub Scouts fulfilled a requirement Tuesday to visit a governmental or historic building, and Bishop said the courthouse "fit both."
Eight sets of legs dangled off padded chairs -- some feet barely touching the ground -- in the Natrona County Commission's work room. With legs crossed and hands folded in his lap, Nicholas Day, 10, gazed through his wire-rimmed glasses at a wall of past county commissioner portraits.
Commissioners took turns trying to translate words like "budget" and "assessor" into prose palatable to the 10-year-old mind.
"Have you been to the detention center?" asked Commissioner Rob Hendry.
Nine-year-old Buck Harris's eyebrows shot up: "Detention?"
With yellow bandannas tied around necks and blue shirttails tucked in, the crew scurried down staircases, through back doors and into elevators for a ride into the now-vacant Juvenile Detention Facility in the courthouse's upper stories.
"Are we prisoners?" Buck asked, eyes wide.
"No," said commissioners' secretary and impromptu tour guide Michelle Maines. "And I hope you never are."
The crew was especially keen on technology Tuesday, and mouths gaped when county employee Fred Wiegand paraded the group into the mammoth system of interconnected computers that runs the county's data services.
One hand shot up: "Can this computer talk to every state? Like China and Germany?"
And while unwrapping a red Starburst as his 4-foot-tall comrades huddled around County Clerk Renea Vitto at a computer screen, Buck asked a question more befitting a college freshman than a 9-year-old.
"Why are they all PCs?" he asked. "Why aren't there any MacBooks?"