Newton County welcomed three new office holders and five returning office holders in a swearing in ceremony Thursday afternoon in the Newton County Division I courtroom of the Newton County Courthouse.
Kay Baum, Newton County clerk, swore in Alan Cook, Jim Jackson and JeAnna McGarrah for their first terms in county office.
The office holders officially begin their terms on Wednesday, Jan. 2.
Cook will begin his duties Wednesday as associate commissioner for District I, while Jackson will join him on the commission as an associate commissioner for District II.
The new commissioners will fill the seats of Jerry Black and Jack Sanders, who are retiring from their posts after 12 years of service.
Cook won the Republican nomination in August, after facing off against Kyle Seaman, and Henry O. Stout. Cook then defeated opponent Roxie Fausnaught, a Libertarian, in the November election.
Jackson defeated Republican challengers W.B. "Doc" McCready, Rick McCully and Carl Brand in the August primary, and Libertarian opponent Heather Bowers in November.
McGarrah will take over the role of Newton County public administrator, a position held for the last eight years by Diane Dodson. Dodson also opted to retire instead of seek re-election. McGarrah defeated Republican challenger Billie Adams-Herrell in the August primary and ran unopposed in the November election.
Cook said the commissioners have already begun the transition process, as he and Jackson have been spending time in the commissioner's office to get a head start on their new jobs.
"For the last couple of months we've been sitting in, listening to the budget process and a lot of the projects that are going on in the county, which has helped immensely," Cook said. "We can kind of hit the ground running come Wednesday, so it's been very good for them to allow us to be part of that."
This is Cook's first elected public office, and he said he's looking forward to getting started.
"It's overwhelming," Cook said after being sworn in. "It's humbling but yet very exciting. I'm anxious to get started."
Thursday's swearing in ceremony also included incumbents who were sworn in for a new term.
Baum swore in returning Newton County assessor, Gloria Gourley, who was re-elected following a race with Tami Renfro-Owens in the August primary.
She also swore in incumbent county surveyor James Loncarich, who ran unopposed in both the primary and general election, and Presiding Judge Timothy Perigo, who was re-elected without competition as Division I judge.
Perigo also swore in incumbent county coroner Mark Bridges, who had no challengers in the primary or general election, and Newton County Sheriff Ken Copeland, who will begin his third term next Wednesday.
Copeland was challenged by fellow Republican Mike Langland in the August primary, and ran unopposed in the November election.
Page 2 of 2 - "I'm very excited to be serving the citizens again," Copeland said. "It's a great honor and I recognize that it's a huge responsibility and I accept that responsibility to the citizens and to the office of sheriff. It's more than just words to me."
Copeland said the first order of business in his new term is addressing the county's radio system.
The state will transition into a narrow band system at the first of the year, and Copeland said the county's 15-year-old radios are not compatible with the narrow band frequency.
"Our system will work right now it's just not what it should be," Copeland said. "This will affect about every emergency service in the county."
He said the department is looking into some grants to help with the radio upgrade.
Newton County Sheriff's Deputies, as well as assistant coroner Lee Ireland, were also sworn in at Thursday afternoon's ceremony.