Local and County Officials Sworn-In
A large crowd of family and friends gathered at the Clay County Courthouse in Piggott at midnight on New Year's Eve, and moments after the clock struck 12 the process began of swearing-in elected officials. This past year was the final for two longtime local public servants, as Clay County Judge Gary Howell fullfilled his promise to retire and Piggott Alderman Lester Edwards was replaced by Travis Williams after being edged in the General Election.
Among those taking the oath of office were their replacements, including Judge Mike Patterson of Piggott. He was elected in the primary election after facing a challenge from Jeff Young of McDougal.
The local native has been involved in the Arkansas political scene his entire life, and has served six years each as both a Piggott Alderman and the State Representative from this district. The latter ended as he was facing term limitations, although he has remained active in state politics in the years since.
Patterson retired from GTE after some 20 years, and has been involved in local real estate for decades. He and his wife, Pat, own and operate Piggott Realty.
Edwards has been a fixture on the Piggott City Council for the biggest part of the past 40-plus years, and is a semi-retired local barber. He was also a local contractor and carpenter for many years, which provided the council with a degree of expertise on the subject of construction during his tenure.
Williams, a Piggott area native and owner of a land levelling company, will be serving as an elected official for the first time. He has strong local family ties, and has expressed a keen interest in seeing the community thrive and grow in the future.
In addition to Williams, Alderman Jeff Benbrook was sworn-in to serve a four year term on the Piggott City Council. Benbrook had been appointed from the South Ward to serve on council after Jim Poole was appointed mayor to served out the un-expired term of the late Gerald Morris. He was subsequently elected to the position, and is mid-way through his first four year term.
After the ceremony was concluded Patterson took a moment to speak to those assembled, offering his thanks to all those who serve. "I'm looking forward to serving, and working with all of you," he surmised.
Clay County Clerk Pat Poole handled the chores of swearing-in those in attendance, which included the other elected officials, JPs, deputy sheriffs, constables and city officials from the various municipalities. Many of the elected officials, especially those from the western district, chose to wait until Monday as a second swearing-in ceremony was held at the courthouse in Corning.
Serving as the unofficial master of ceremonies was District Judge David Copelin, who was also sworn-in to begin another term in office.