Recently elected officials sworn in over weekend

Published 7:10 pm Monday, January 14, 2019

LaFAYETTE — A newly remodeled courtroom was filled to capacity Sunday afternoon as a large turnout of Chambers County citizens was on hand to witness four judges, a sheriff, a clerk of court, a coroner and 28 deputies take oaths of office. The swearing-in ceremony took place in the historic courtroom upstairs in the 1899 portion of the Chambers County Courthouse.

It was an especially pleasing day for former Circuit Clerk Charles Story, who saw his son Paul sworn in as the new Chambers County probate judge.

“When he was born I was the first one to call him Paul,” he said, “and now I’m the first one to call him judge. That means a lot.”

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Following the oath of office, Paul Story spoke to the big crowd filling the courtroom. He thanked a large contingent of family and friends who came to the ceremony.

“Without you I wouldn’t be here,” he said. “I thank everyone who supported me in the campaign.”

The new probate judge asked his staff to stand and be recognized.

“My pledge to you is to make the office as functional and professional as it can be,” he said. “I look forward to working with you. That will start tomorrow.”

Long-time Circuit Judge Tom Young was present for the swearing in and administered oaths of office to several of the judges. Sunday was his final day on the job. He is retiring and is being succeeded by Isaac Whorton, who gave up a seat in the state legislature to run for the vacant court seat. He was elected to that judgeship in the November general election.

Several of those who were sworn in on Sunday said this would be their final term in office, that they wouldn’t seek re-election when their new term expired. Those talking about retirement were District Court Judge Calvin Milford, Circuit Judge Steve Perryman and Sheriff Sid Lockhart.

Judge Young thanked the people of Chambers County on having supported him during his years on the bench.

“It has been an honor to have served you for 18 years,” he said. “Thank you for your past support. I couldn’t have held this position without it. Some of the finest people in the world are here in Chambers County.”

The crowd gave Young a loud, standing ovation, thanking him for his service.

“This is probably the last time I will take this oath,” Milford said. “I will be 61 when this term ends. It’s a challenge to make this court the best it can be.”

Circuit Judge Perryman, who won without opposition, thanked the citizens for their support. “Calvin hinted that it might be his last term. This will be my last term,” he said, getting some good-natured laughter. “It has been a pleasure to serve the people in this circuit.”

“This just got real,” Whorton said to some laughter after being sworn in. He added that he’d had a full year of hard campaigning but that it had been a great experience for him.

“This judicial circuit has some of the best people I’ve ever met,” he said. “They are so welcoming. I especially want to thank the citizens of Chambers County. They believed in me and what I stand for.”

Circuit Clerk Lisa Burette stood with her granddaughter Callie when she took her oath of office. “It’s been a good six years,” she said. “I want to thank (former clerk) Charles (Story) for helping me get off to a good start and my staff for putting up with me. I want to thank the voters for having the faith in me to let me do this job another six years.”

Jeff Jones, who is starting his fifth term as county coroner, thanked his family for backing his campaign and the voters for returning him to officer for a fifth term.

“I will continue to do the best job I can,” he said.

History was made when Sid Lockhart was sworn in to his seventh term as sheriff. He’s the first sheriff in Chambers County to have been elected that many times. He stood with his wife Sharon and granddaughter London to take the oath.

“I want to thank everyone for supporting me,” he said. “Y’all have been great to me. This will be my last term. I am proud of the deputies we have. I can remember when I first started as a deputy that there were only six of them in Chambers County. We have 28 now, and they are doing great work for the citizens.”

The program concluded with Donna Allen singing “God Bless America.”