Assessor and clerk of court inaugurated

Published 7:40 am Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Two Washington Parish elected officials stepped into their new posts Monday morning during inauguration ceremonies held in front of standing room only crowds in the upstairs courtroom of the parish courthouse.

First up was James A. “Jimbo” Stevenson Jr., who was sworn in by Judge Robert J. Black as acting assessor and whose term will officially begin in January. Also sworn in were Chief Deputy Assessor Helen Warren Hart and the rest of the assessor’s office staff. Hart has been with the assessor’s office 33 years and is the first woman to be named chief deputy assessor, Stevenson noted.

Outgoing Assessor Randy Seal, passing the torch to his successor a few hours before his own installation as sheriff, thanked the office’s staff for the work it has done over the years and said he was proud to see Stevenson take on the duties of assessor.

“We’re going to be working closely together, and keep up the good work,” Seal said.

A Bogalusa High School graduate, Stevenson said he saw the majority of his classmates leave the parish after high school. After finishing college, he lived in Baton Rouge for a year but realized “that wasn’t where I wanted to be,” he said.

“I came back, and I’ve been here ever since,” he said. “I think the parish is on the move. I think the city’s on the move.”

A more formal affair, the kickoff of Johnny D. Crain Jr.’s inauguration as clerk of court included the presentation of colors by the Franklinton High School JROTC and the singing of the national anthem by Greselda Abrams.

Master of ceremonies John Gallaspy recognized the judges and elected officials in attendance, who were too numerous to all be seated in the jury box.

Johnny D. Crain spoke about his service as clerk of court, his family, his staff and the handing of the title over to his son, who he said will be an honest, dedicated and truthful leader who will “continue to move this office forward.”

The oath of office was then administered by the elder Crain.

When Johnny Crain Jr. stepped up to the microphone, he addressed each of his family members who were in attendance, including his father, describing him as his best friend and inspiration in getting into public office.

“I can’t fit in your shoes, but I’m going to keep them walking,” he said to his dad. “I’m going to keep it going forward. And I know you’ll always be there if I need something. You always knew that it was a dream of mine to follow in your footsteps, and I don’t care what anybody says — there’s nothing wrong with wanting to follow in your dad’s footsteps.”

Crain said he was humbled to be selected as clerk of court and that he will work hard to show his appreciation to the public, and he discussed the clerk of court staff, saying each employee will remain and in the same position as he or she held during the previous administration. After that, he installed Jan Reily as his chief deputy and the rest of the staff members as clerk of court deputies.

A reception for both Stevenson and Crain followed in the Parish Council chambers.