Newton County's new Board of Commissioners Chairman is positive about the future of the county and looking forward to working with the board as a team player.
Keith Ellis was sworn-in as the new BOC Chairman by Probate Court Judge Henry Baker at a ceremony held in the historic courthouse on Dec. 20.
With one hand raised and the other on his mother's Bible, backed by his wife Sherrie and his two daughters Courtney and Charity, Ellis took an oath of office to lead the citizens of the county.
A day after being sworn-in, Ellis, 53, said he was excited to serve the citizens of the county.
"I felt a tremendous sense of what the job would entail and the obligation I have to serve the people of Newton County," he said. "As I was sworn-in with my family there and on my mother's Bible, it made me more determined to do the best possible job that I can do for the people of Newton County."
"There are 100,000 citizens who are looking to us to lead them out of what has been the worst recession of our generation. It's going to be a pleasure to serve in that leadership role that's going to help us move out of that and into a brand new day in Newton County," he said.
Ellis explained that he plans to be a chairman that will work with the BOC and that the board was a team who could positively make great progress in the county.
"I'm looking forward to being a leader who can bring the board of commissioners to a consensus and react as a team during important issues for our citizens," he said. "Building a better Newton County is what all citizens want. Providing the quality of life for generations to come and building a better Newton County has got to include teamwork."
"I think that we've got an opportunity to turn the page and work together as a board and serve in a professional manner. Even when we disagree, we can find common ground and compromise to get the results that Newton County needs," Ellis said.
In addition to working with the BOC, Ellis said he also wants to build bridges with all five cities in the county, constitutional officers and the legislative delegation.
"I want to work with the legislative delegation to get as many opportunities to benefit Newton County as possible in this current year and future years. I want to build that bridge now to be able to get the benefits of having a strong delegation and a solidified commission behind them."
Ellis added that he also wanted to capitalize on Baxter International and Stanton Springs as well as the development authorities land. He said a personal goal would be to help the younger generations in the county learn the importance of education and train them so that they can work at places such as Baxter and earn a better wage for their families.
Though he is the new chairman for the county, Ellis said he appreciates all those who have served the county before him. He said he will call on past leaders for wisdom as he takes on his new role.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for all commissioners who have served as district commissioners and chairmen in the past. I admire all the achievements that have been made by those boards over the years," Ellis said. "Many of those people I am going to call on in the future for assistance, advice and maybe just to have a cup of coffee. I wish them the best and thanks for their service."
Ellis said his main focus is the citizens. He made the point that he always wants to keep them informed and be as transparent and honest as possible.
"We want to let them know about our vision and listen to them and represent them rather than us making our decisions to do what's best for the people," Ellis said.
"The past is over and we will learn from it, but our future is ahead and it is bright."
Commissioners and officials sworn in
Family and citizens from the community witnessed several other officials get sworn-in to office by Judge Baker during the ceremony on last Thursday.
Republicans John Douglas and Levie Maddox were sworn-in to serve as new commissioners for the county. Douglas will represent District 1 on the board and Maddox will represent District 5.
Democrat Nancy Schulz was sworn-in for a second term as a BOC commissioner to represent District 3.
With nearly 40-years in law enforcement, Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown was backed by his family as he was sworn-in to serve his second term in office.
Republican Tommy Davis took an oath to perform all of the duties entailed with being the county coroner.
Linda D. Hayes took an oath of office to serve as the Clerk of Courts as her family witness her being sworn-in. Hayes then took to the stage again to hold a Bible for Barbara Dingler, who was sworn-in as tax commissioner.
The ceremony concluded with a prayer from former BOC commissioner Mort Ewing. Attendees gathered for refreshments and pictures after the event.