County leaders sworn to serve

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District Court Judge Sherry Shipman swears in Tracy Murphree as the new Denton County sheriff during a ceremony Sunday afternoon at the Courthouse on the Square.
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New sheriff among 14 officials to take oaths during Jan. 1 ceremony

Plenty of heartfelt applause and laughter showered over newly sworn county officials during a brief ceremony New Year’s Day attended by family and friends.

After Denton County’s newest sheriff, Tracy Murphree, repeated the final words of his oath back to Denton District Judge Sherry Shipman, the crowd erupted in cheers and exuberant applause. Murphree was the only of the 14 newly sworn officials to receive a standing ovation after completing his oath of office.

He thanked his family and friends for their support, including employees of the Denton County Sheriff’s Office who also attended the ceremony Sunday afternoon.

“I am proud to lead you,” he said.

A number of other elected and sworn officials attended the ceremony, including Denton Police Chief Lee Howell, U.S. Congressman Michael Burgess, R-Pilot Point, and state Rep.-elect Lynn Stucky.

Stucky will take his oath of office Jan. 10 in Austin as the Denton area’s new representative in the state Legislature.

Except for Murphree and Richard Bachus, the new constable for Precinct 6 in Carrollton, the new year brings back many familiar faces to Denton County government.

District Judges Sherry Shipman, Jonathan Bailey, Doug Robison and Tiffany Haertling each took an oath for another four-year term during the public ceremony. District Judge Bruce McFarling also was re-elected, but he did not take his oath during Sunday’s public ceremony.

County Commissioners Hugh Coleman and Bobbie Mitchell brought members of their family to the floor as they took their oath of office. Coleman begins his third term representing Precinct 1, which is primarily the northern and eastern parts of the county. Mitchell begins her fifth term in Precinct 3, in the Lewisville area.

Michelle French was sworn for her second term as the county tax assessor-collector along with all the county constables, who all begin new four-year terms this year.

Constable Jerry Raburn told the crowd that he plans for this term to be his last. He has served since 1993 as the constable in Precinct 3, which covers Lewisville, Highland Village and Copper Canyon.

“At the end of this term, I will have served 54 years in law enforcement, so it will be time to quit,” Raburn said.

The swearing-in ceremony was a part of a regular meeting of the Denton County Commissioners Court. Commissioners took a few minutes of the public meeting to change one of the appointments Murphree planned for his new administration.

They agreed Barry Caver, a retired Texas Ranger, would serve as an assistant chief deputy.

Commissioner Ron Marchant was absent from the meeting, as was Justice of the Peace J.W. Hand, who had been scheduled to preside over Constable Tim Burch’s oath of office.

Both serve in Precinct 4, which covers the southwest corner of the county.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

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