By Roger McKinney

COLUMBUS, Kan. — State Rep. Doug Gatewood on Monday received something that none of the other officeholders from Cherokee County received after being sworn in: a kiss.

Gatewood’s oath was administered by Cherokee County Clerk Crystal Gatewood, his wife. She had been sworn in minutes before.

Along with the Gatewoods, those taking the oath of office at the courthouse were Sheriff David Groves, County Commissioners Jack Garner and Richard Hilderbrand, and Register of Deeds Christy Grant.

Hilderbrand, of Baxter Springs, will serve the county’s 3rd District.

“I’m excited,” Hilderbrand said. “I’m looking forward to serving the citizens of Cherokee County.”

He said his immediate priorities will be examining county policies and getting delinquent-tax sales on a yearly schedule.

Garner, of rural Columbus, is the new 2nd District commissioner. He said he is excited about having the opportunity to serve county residents. He said it will be important to pay close attention to the county budget as the nation’s economy declines. He said the state also may make cuts that affect counties.

Garner said he resigned Friday from the Riverton Board of Education, of which he served as president.

Groves said he is ready to get started. He said he has written new Sheriff’s Department policies that he plans to put in place. He said residents will see a difference in his department

“It’s an overall attitude that we’re here to serve the public,” Groves said. “They want a sense of the Sheriff’s Department being part of the community, not isolated.”

He said the staff of outgoing Sheriff Steve Norman was helpful in the transition.

“I haven’t had a whole lot of contact with Mr. Norman,” Groves added.

Groves said rural residents will begin seeing patrol cars more frequently. He said residents of all parts of the county deserve the same police protection.

Crystal Gatewood said her first priority as county clerk will be to get herself oriented and organized.

“I’m excited,” she said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready to start.”

Garner and Hilderbrand join 1st District Commissioner Pat Collins, of Galena, on the County Commission. Hilderbrand and Collins are Republicans, and Garner is a Democrat. Groves and both Gatewoods are Democrats. Grant is a Republican.


Also taking the oath of office Monday were County Attorney John Bullard and Treasurer Juanita Hodgson, neither of whom faced opposition in the November election. State Rep. Doug Gatewood also had no election opponent.

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