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Boys' State officials take oath of office

by Danny Forinash

STAFF WRITER

It was inauguration day at Jackson's Mill on Wednesday as several of the young men of Boys' State took the oath of office.

Each newly elected official was sworn in by Marion County Circuit Judge Fred L. Fox, who has given the oath for eight years at Boys' State.

"By virtue of being here, you all have achieved the status of leaders," Fox told the crowd of about 400 high school boys onhand to witness the inauguration.

The new governor, Patrick Knighton of Charleston, told his fellow citizens that he would try to make this Boys' State one of the best ever. He pointed out that former Boys' State participants include Gov. Cecil Underwood, Rep. Bob Wise and President Bill Clinton. "As the men of tomorrow, we are challenged to follow these footsteps," said Knighton.

Also sworn in were David Wang of Morgantown to the position of secretary of state; James Perry II of Huntington to auditor; Billy Tiano of Clarksburg to treasurer; Daniel Akers of Daniels to commissioner of agriculture; and Phillip McGhee of Buckhannon to attorney general.

Ash Guy of Union, Marcus Shaffer of Weston, Scott Bragg of Bridgeport, Will Alexander of Barboursville and Brain Ray of Huntington were sworn in as justices of the state Supreme Court.

Also sworn in as Speaker of the House of Delegates was Shawn Swiger.

The two political parties at Boys' State came out of the election reasonably even. The Federalist Party filled in six of the elected positions, while the Nationalist Party took five positions.

After the inauguration ceremonies, Gov. Underwood spoke spoke about the importance of Flag Day and respect for the American Flag, calling it the "single most powerful symbol of the American nation."

"It must wave forever in the hearts of you and me," Underwood told the crowd.

Underwood said that he wanted to see a "union of effort to bring our people with different views and goals together."

"You are the leaders chosen because of the unique quality of leadership you've shown," he said.

Underwood's speech was followed by a formal review parade which was attended by the new state officials and many of their family members.

"It's a little hot out here," said Charolette Bragg, mother of the new Supreme Court judge. "But it's impressive to see the marching and this great band."

Wednesday also featured court trials in the afternoon. According to Mark Byers, counselor at Boys' State, the boys participated in civil cases. Today's trials will feature criminal cases. Members of the Harrison County Bar Association oversee the trials.

Staff writer Danny Forinash can be reached at 626-1442.

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