Bobby Flash Melton
Benton County elected officials who were victorious in last month’s general election took the oath of office for their positions during swearing-in ceremonies held at the Benton County Courthouse on Thursday, Sept. 1. Topping the list of new office holders are Benton County Mayor Mark Ward, Trustee Beverly Beal, 24th Judicial District Circuit Court Part II Judge Bruce Griffey, and 24th Judicial District Attorney General Neil Thompson.
Singing the National Anthem and leading the assembled crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance at the start of the ceremonies on Thursday morning were Benton County Republican Party Chairman Matthew Jones, his wife Kelly, and their daughter Ella.
In a program that began at 8 a.m., 24th Judicial District Chancellor Vicki Hoover, Griffey, and Thompson were among judicial officials sworn-in for eight-year terms. As senior presiding officer of the district, Hoover administered the oath of office to Griffey, Thompson, and members of the DA’s staff.
After being sworn into his judicial position, Griffey’s first duty in his new role was to administer the oath of office to Hoover and the newly elected or re-elected Benton County officials.
Mark Ward was sworn in by Griffey as the new Benton County Mayor, followed by new Trustee Beverly Beal. Incumbents who renewed their oaths of office for another term were Sheriff Kenny Christopher, Road Supervisor Buck Carter, Register of Deeds Sonya Volz, County Clerk Wanda Malin, Circuit Court Clerk Sam Rainwaters, and General Sessions Judge John Whitworth.
Before taking the oath, each public official expressed appreciation to those in attendance for their support in the recent election and pledged to work hard during their terms to serve Benton County and its citizens. The terms of the local officials are for four years, except for Whitworth, whose term as a judicial officer is for eight years.
Many citizens attended the oath of office ceremonies, including family members, friends, and staff of the various public offices. A reception for officials and guests took place immediately following the morning swearing-in activities and was held in the large courtroom of the Benton County Courthouse.
On Thursday afternoon, another swearing-in ceremony was held for individuals who were elected on Aug. 4 to serve on the Benton County Commission for four-year terms. Due to prior commitments, a few of the commissioners were unable to attend the swearing-in but will take their oaths of office prior to the next Benton County Commission meeting scheduled for Monday, Sept. 19. Whitworth administered the oath to the commissioners who attended.
Commissioners chosen on Aug. 4 to serve for the next four years include:
District 1: Keith Arnold, Marty Douglas, and Stephen Stokes.
District 2: Deborah Bain, Kenneth Miller, and Rocky Presson.
District 3: Bret Burke, Gary Furr, and Frank Lashlee.
District 4: Dwayne Fowler, Sonny Hall, and Phil Melton.
District 5: Jimmy Lee Kenniston, Mike Nunnery, and Rosanne Ward.
District 6: Darrel Hicks, Terry Kiehn, and Jerry Price.
Representatives of U.S. Congressman Mark Green were among those present at the swearing-in of commissioners. On behalf of Green, they congratulated the commissioners and wished them well as they begin their terms. They also said that Green is eager to work with Ward and the commissioners to assist with federal projects that will enable Benton County to grow and prosper.
In closing, Ward congratulated the new and returning commissioners on winning their seats and said he looks forward to working with each of them on issues and topics that will benefit and improve Benton County in the coming years.