Commission welcomes pair of new faces

Published 1:42 pm Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A pair of new commissioners took office on Monday, optimistic about the future of Butler County even as the country deals with a struggling economy.

“We may very well face hard times ahead,” said Commissioner Frank Hickman, who begins his third term in office. “We’re going to be dealing with revenue shortfalls, but we want the people to know we will ensure the essential services of government are available for everyone.”

Chairman Jesse McWilliams welcomed Lynn Harold Watson (Dist. 5), and Jimmy Lee Crum (Dist. 4) to the commission.

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Crum was appointed to serve as District 4 Commissioner by Butler County’s Democratic Executive Committee following the death of Daniel Robinson in July. He held off the challenge of write-in candidate Tommie Hamilton during the General Election to win.

Crum previously served three terms on the commission before Robinson beat him in 1996.

One supporter, Fern Nix, attended the ceremony and said she looked forward to having Crum as her commissioner.

“Jimmy Lee did a lot for us when he was in office,” said Nix, who lives in the Pigeon Creek community.

Watson took his first oath of office on the Georgiana City Council in 1976 and subsequently served as mayor of the small town until stepping down in 2008 to seek election in District 5. He defeated incumbent Glenn King of McKenzie last Tuesday.

“I will be a commissioner for the whole district and not just for the people who voted for me,” promised Watson.

Watson admitted he felt somewhat lost on Monday morning. Years of routine – early mornings at a local coffee shop, then to his office at city hall in Georgiana – were hard to forget in one day.

“I went down there this morning and something was wrong, so I started telling people they needed to change this and change that,” he said. “Then I thought ‘what am I doing? This isn’t my job anymore.'”

He was especially pleased that longtime friend Mike Middleton had been elected to succeed him as mayor.

“Very rarely do you find that the former mayor and the current mayor are friends,” he said.

Watson said he hopes to bring additional fiscal responsibility to the commission.

“I know in Georgiana with our budget what we got in was what we spent and that was it,” he said.

Like Hickman, McWilliams (District 2) faced no opposition in the General Election.

“Jimmy Lee brings a lot of experience to this commission,” he said. “He may have to be brought up to speed on some things, but he catches on quick. And Lynn Harold Watson knows his business. Both men will be assets to this commission.”

Incumbent Jerry Hartin, the lone Republican, won re-election in District 1, beating Lawrence Philpot.

“I thank the people of District 1 and look forward to serving for a second term,” said Hartin.