published Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Sheriff, 13 other Catoosa County officials sworn in

  • photo
    Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk is surrounded by family members as he is sworn in at the Catoosa County Superior Court in Ringgold, Ga., Monday afternoon.
    Photo by Alyson Wright.
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Catoosa County officials sworn in

• Probate Judge Gene Lowery

• Superior Court Judge Brian House

• Sheriff Gary Sisk

• Board of Commissioners Chairman Keith Greene

• Commissioner Jeff Long

• Commissioner Jim Cutler

• Magistrate Judge John Gass

• Clerk of Superior Court Tracy Brown

• Tax Commissioner Sandra Self

• Deputy Tax Commissioner Dona Giarrizzo

• Coroner Vanita Hullander

• Deputy Coroners Sharon Anderson, Dandy Lynn and Larry Smith

With his hand on his father's old Bible, Gary Sisk was sworn in Monday afternoon as the next Catoosa County sheriff.

As new sheriff, Sisk said, he wants to spearhead more community-based programs, mentoring programs in schools and gun safety classes, but he doesn't see the need for drastic changes or administrative turnover in the office.

"I'm looking forward to the new year," Sisk said. "We'll make some gradual changes, but we've got a good agency, so not a whole lot needs to be changed off the bat."

Sisk replaces Phil Summers, who had served for 22 years.

Along with 13 other county officials, Sisk was sworn in at the Catoosa County Superior Court. Most of the elected officials, including judges and commissioners, were incumbents returning to office, except Tracy Brown, who was elected in a heated race for clerk of court.

The seat became empty after Norman Stone, who was one of the longest-serving elected officials in the county at 43 years and 9 months, died last year. Stone -- who was known for his booming voice and his one arm and one leg-- was well loved at the courthouse, said Probate Judge Gene Lowery. But Brown worked under Stone for 19 years and will make a great fit, Lowery said before he swore her into office.

"I do a lot of oaths, but this is one that I'm most proud of," Lowery said to a packed crowd. "Tracy is going to make a great clerk."

Brown said she will never be able to fill Stone's shoes, but she is excited about the opportunity. She plans to move the court system online and will begin the process this month, she said.

"The biggest thing is to get our records online so people can access them and not have to come into the courthouse," she said.

In the sheriff's office, Sisk's first task is to appoint Capt. Kelly Holcomb as chief deputy to fill Sisk's now-vacant spot. Holcomb will take over the position today, and the sheriff's office will began the promotion process to move another employee into his position. Sisk said Holcomb was chosen because he has worked alongside Summers and himself for more than 15 years.

"I've considered him third in command," Sisk said. "He's very knowledgeable about the sheriff's office."

Sisk's mother, Pat Gorsuch, said she was proud of her son as she carried out of the courthouse the Bible that once belonged to her husband. He was a Methodist preacher who died when Sisk was 3 years old.

"Hopefully, he would be proud of me," Sisk said.

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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