Not to be overlooked as a feature that capped off what was listed as an oath of office ceremony and judicial robing in the Mingo County Circuit Court room, was a free buffet luncheon served to the dozens of relatives, friends and well-wishers who crowded the courtroom for the launching of elected officials’ terms in 2009.
Court Bailiff Eric Sherrill opened court, followed by the invocation by the Rev. Mitchell Bias of Delbarton. Chief Judge Michael Thornsbury introduced Justice Ketchum, who evoked laughter from the crowd when he observed, “I am the only statewide politician here, and I want you to know, through the state, most of the judges and lawyers think the finest trial judge in the state is Mike Thornsbury. There are a few of us who would like to see him in Charleston.”
Besides Justice Ketchum, the event had a distinguished visitor from Pikeville, Ky., — Judge Larry Thompson.
All of the elected or reelected officials are Democrats.
Judge Thornsbury, Stev-en Kominar and Harry Keith White, members of the West Virginia House of Delegates from Mingo County, and reelected Mingo County Commis-sioner Gregory “Hootie” Smith spoke in turn just prior to the administering of oaths.
Thornsbury, who has served 12 years as circuit judge, thanked everyone for attending the day’s event and those who had spoken about what can and might be done in Mingo County.
“I am going to do my best,” said Thornsbury. “The people here have said what we need to do in Mingo County. We have the best people in the state; we have the best officials in the state; economic development is happening and we need to be the shining star in the state.
“This will probably be my last oath of office in Mingo County, but while I’m here, I intend to do the best job that I can possibly do,” Thornsbury told listeners.
“I am not perfect, but I do try,” he added. “I have a quote on my bench that says, ‘Don’t go where the path takes you, go where there is no path and leave a trail.’”
Del. Kominar spoke about Noah Webster’s definition of the word oath, noting that in some states it may be considered treason or high crime to betray a sworn oath of office. The definition of oath by the 1st Congress, he said, was “A solemn appeal to God to witness the truth of a statement or the sincerity of a promise.”
He added that the election to an office by one’s peers is a great honor which also carries with it a tremendous responsibility to fulfill the duties of that office.
“I know Judge Thorns-bury takes this oath of office and the responsibilities of his office seriously,” said the delegate. “He has shown this in his past performances as our judge. What makes Judge Thornsbury unique is that when he takes the black robe off and leaves this courthouse, he becomes Mike Thornsbury, involved citizen of Mingo County. He hasn’t forgotten what got him to be our judge.”
Justice Ketchum administered the oath of office to Thornsbury as judge of the 30th Judicial Circuit and the latter then donned his robe with the assistance of his wife, Drema. Thornsbury then swore in Miki Thompson as Family Court Judge in the 8th Family Court Circuit. She succeeds Robert Calfee, who chose not to run for reelection.
Others administered the oath in turn included the following:
Kominar and White as Mingo Delegates from the the 20th and 21st districts, respectively.
Gregory “Hootie” Smith, as reelected members of the Mingo County Commis-sion.
Eugene Crum, chief magistrate, and Pam Newsome, both reelected as magistrates. Shawna Layne was given the oath as assistant to Crum. (Magistrate Dee Sidebottom was absent.)
C. Michael Sparks was given the oath as reelected prosecuting attorney of the county. Also taking their oaths at the same time were his assistant prosecutors, Glen R. Rutledge, Teresa D. MaynJimmy Webb was sworn in as reelected county surveyor.
The Reverend Mr. Bias gave the benediction and Justice Ketchum adjourned the ceremony, followed by the reception in which lines formed for those in the audience to have the opportunity of extending personal congratulations to those taking part in the ceremony.
In his talk before the swearing-in ceremony, Commissioner Smith read a letter on behalf of Commission President John Mark Hubbard., and offered comments in which he thanked the public for support of his candidacy.
Smith, who has been practicing law for 13 years, acknowledged the blessings of having parents, a wife and two daughters, along with other family members. “I want to thank my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ for supporting me in the work I am in. My God is in control of the universe and I believe He controls all things.
“None of us here is perfect, none of us will get every decision right,” Smith said. “But, in the six years I have served with the County Commission, I have believed in every decision I have made. As we grow older, we learn that there are more things to learn and experience and I am grateful for that.
“I am grateful for the years I have served the county, and for the people who have reelected me,” said Smith. “Here in Mingo County, we fight like heck at election time. But, when the elections are over, it’s time to put all that behind you. Because, that person that voted for you, you represent them. That person who didn’t vote for you, you represent them as well.”
Del. White said “We are fortunate in West Virginia, thanks to coal severance taxes and oil, gas and timber, to be one of a handful in the state who is not in dire straits right now when it comes to our budgets.
“Our post mine land use plan started in the early 1990s, and now we have economic development that most counties want,” White noted. “They want to do it fast, but it doesn’t happen quickly.”