COVINGTON - It's a new year for Newton County government.
Newly elected officials were sworn in at 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Newton County Historic Courthouse before a standing-room only crowd.
New sheriff Ezell Brown and new Board of Commissioners Chairman Kathy Morgan both received standing ovations after taking the oath of office. Brown is the first black sheriff in Newton County, while Morgan is the first woman to chair the county commission.
"No one would ever imagine 50-plus years ago that I would be standing here," Brown said. He gave credit to his parents, who "labored and toiled with me and molded and shaped me into the man I am today." He also thanked all his supporters, his family and campaign workers.
Morgan, who shed tears while she was being sworn in, pointed out the diversity of the crowd watching.
"This is what Newton County is today," she said. "This is an opportunity for us to create the community, the lifestyle and the friendship we want to move Newton County forward. I'm looking not at a challenge but at an opportunity. If I don't know you, please introduce yourself to me because I just look at you as a friend I've yet to meet."
Also taking the oath of office were District 1 Commissioner Mort Ewing; District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz; District 5 Commissioner Tim Fleming; District Attorney Ken Wynne; Superior Court Clerk Linda Hays; Tax Commissioner Barbara Dingler; and Coroner Tommy Davis.
Probate Judge Henry Baker administered the oath of office to the officials, who were joined by family members at the podium.
Recently elected Board of Education members did not participate in the ceremony - they will be sworn in at the board's first meeting in January.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.