Thursday, January 10, 2008
County officials take oath
By SUE WATSON
Several hundred friends and family of the elected officials serving Marshall County for the 2008-2011 term gathered at the courthouse Thursday for an auspicious ceremony and swearing in to office.
The Honorable Chuck Easley, Supreme Court Justice, District 3, Place 2, presided.
Prefacing remarks were made by county administrator Larry Hall and circuit court clerk Lucy Carpenter.
Hall emphasized both the pride with which elected officers serve the county and the accomplishments seen in recent years.
He said four years seems like a long time at the beginning of a term, but in a flash it’s gone.
Marshall County is rising, he said, enumerating recent improvements in the infrastructure, criminal justice system and education.
“Marshall County is a better place for us to live and for people to come and raise their families,” he said.
There was less turnover in elected officials in Marshall County this election year than in most other counties in Mississippi, he said, pointing out the stability the county enjoys.
“Our people have remembered where they came from and done a good job representing you all,” Hall said. “There is a lot of unity that has developed in Marshall County the past four years, but so much is left to be done.
“Every challenge and decision is not an easy one. The signs we’ve seen are from strong leadership.”
Drawing on the words of Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, Hall said, “If you see a terrapin sitting on the top of a fence post, he had to have some help getting there. Don’t forget who put you there or where you are from. We all have to have some help, somewhere.”
Following prayer by Milton Winter, Hall read out the name of each elected official as each stood briefly – C.W. “Chuck” Thomas Jr., chancery clerk, second term; Lucy Carpenter, circuit clerk, sixth full term; James Richard Anderson, first term coroner; Shirley Byers, first term county attorney; Kenny Dickerson, third term sheriff; Don Randolph, second term superintendent of education; Betty Byrd, second term tax collector; Juanita M. Dillard, first term tax assessor; Willie Flemon Jr., fourth term supervisor; Eddie Dixon, third term supervisor; Keith Taylor, third term supervisor; George Zinn III, second term supervisor; Ronnie Joe Bennett, second term supervisor; Johnny G. Fitch, second term constable; Don Cothern, fourth term constable; Eugene Brown Jr., second term justice court judge; Ernest Cunningham, sixth term justice court judge; and Queen E. Dean, second term school board trustee.
Before introducing Justice Easley, Carpenter shared some anecdotes.
She thanked the board of supervisors for installing a new sound system so people in the back of the courtroom can now hear, and quipped that Hall had not gone to the microphone to take advantage of it.
In presenting Easley, she said he is a father, husband, grandfather, who earned a bachelor’s at Ole Miss, a master’s at Mississippi State University in business, then a juris doctorate at Ole Miss.
From 1980-1983, Easley worked in the district attorney’s office, before working in the county courts.
“Professors at Ole Miss advise young attorneys to learn from their clerks,” Carpenter said. “I taught him all I could.”
Easley serves on the ethics committee for the Supreme Court elected committee and teaches classes, she said, adding that Easley’s seat will be up for election this year.
“He’s our friend, he’s practiced law in our court and you need to meet him,” she said.
In his prefacing remarks, Easley agreed that Carpenter was his teacher.
“I was just fresh off a John Deere tractor,” he quipped.
“The sheriff (Kenny Dickerson), took a lawyer who didn’t know anything about criminal law and taught him.”
Easley, who resides in Jackson, lauded Marshall County as a great place to live.
Turning to the elected, Easley said, public service is a “great and noble service.”
“You have been chosen and the voters expect you to put your own interests aside and represent them,” he said. “We have a wonderful state. We live in a blessed place which gives each of you many opportunities in life. As long as you do what is right in your heart and mind, you will be right.”
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