A new year brings new faces and terms of office as Catoosa County held a special swearing-in ceremony Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 2, with six elected officials taking oaths.

While oaths have been taken at the county government building and the courthouse in recent years, Catoosa County officials went a step further this time, holding more of a formal assembly at the Catoosa County Colonnade.

“I know this is a little unusual from what we’ve done in the past, but I think public service needs to have a little better light brought on it,” said Catoosa County Commission Chairman Steven Henry. “It’s a big deal and I just wanted to do a little extra for them.”

Among those sworn in was Jack Sims with the Catoosa County Board of Education, as well as court officials Doug Woodruff (State Court solicitor general), Ron Goulart (State Court judge), and Ralph Van Pelt Jr. as Superior Court judge for the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit.

The Board of Commissioners also welcomed two new members: Chuck Harris and Charlie Stephens, who unseated incumbents Bobby Winters and Ray Johnson respectively in last year’s primary election.

“We have two new commissioners getting sworn in and they’re filling some big shoes,” Henry said. “We look forward to working with them. You’re never going to make everybody happy (as an elected official), but it’s one of the truest forms of serving your fellow man.”

All six men who were sworn in were able to share the moments with family members, some of whom held Bibles for each new official as their oath was prompted by Probate Judge Jeff Hullender.

Henry added that making a bigger deal about the swearing-in ceremony was also a way of highlighting the importance of not only the positions being filled, but also how well the county, cities, school board, and state officials work together as a unit.

“This is not only a swearing-in ceremony, it’s great to have everybody in one room working together for the common goal of serving the people of Catoosa County,” Henry said.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.

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