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For Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James Updike, it was a welcome change — everyone in the courtroom Friday morning was smiling.
That's not usually the case when court is in session.
But this was a different occasion. On Friday, the newly-elected local officials were being sworn in for their upcoming terms. Family, friends, supporters and other government officials packed the courtroom to witness the ceremony.
And it represents a changing of the guard.
For the school board, three new members were sworn in—Kevin Willis in District 7, Kelly Harmony in District 6 and Richard Downey in District 1 — along with District 5 incumbent Julie Bennington. Downey and Harmony ran unopposed for the open seats, vacated by Joy Wright and Shirley McCabe, while Willis defeated current school board chair Debbie Hoback in a close election. Bennington fended off a challenge from Ricky Wilkerson in her reelection bid.
Part of that responsibility will be hitting the ground running for the three new members as the process to craft the 2012-2013 budget will be on the plate when they begin their service in January.
There will be two new faces on the board of supervisors come January as well. Tammy Parker, who won a contested election for the seat being vacated by Gary Lowry, takes over in District 7, while Bill Thomasson defeated long-time incumbent Dale Wheeler in District 1. They join Board Chairman Annie Pollard, District 6, and District 5 Supervisor Steve Arrington who were also reelected to the board in November.
Updike, prior to swearing in each member individually, noted that the ceremony marks a long-standing tradition in the county. He noted his own times being sworn in as a commonwealth's attorney and judge, and then read from last week's Bedford Bulletin which had, in the “Do You Remember” section, a story on the swearing-in ceremony from 60 years ago.
“I commend you for your willingness to serve as a public servant,” Updike told those who were about to be sworn in for their respective offices.
Among those taking office was Thomasson, who said he was looking forward to getting going “and contributing to the board as much as I possibly can.”
“We've got some good board members here and I'm looking forward to serving with them,” Thomasson said.
Also sworn in Friday were three constitutional officers, all who had run unopposed in November's election—Commonwealth's Attorney Randy Krantz, Commissioner of the Revenue Faye Eubank and Treasurer Rebecca Jones.
Sheriff Mike Brown had been sworn in prior to Friday's ceremony.