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New mayor for the Boro
Brannen takes office; council members sworn in Tuesday
W Tommy Blitch
Tommy Blitch
    A new mayor and two new Statesboro city council members took office Tuesday morning when they were sworn in before the Statesboro City Council meeting. The new members were honored with a breakfast reception before the business portion of the council meeting took place.
    "I appreciate everybody coming out on this cold winter morning, Jan. 5, 2010, the first meeting of 2010," said Mayor Joe Brannen, who ran unopposed in November. He succeeds Bill Hatcher, who did not seek reelection after serving two terms.
    Bulloch County Probate Judge Lee DeLoach, who has performed swearing-in ceremonies for the Statesboro City Council for 23 years, swore Brannen in first.
    Then, Councilman Tommy Blitch, who was reelected to his second term, took the oath, followed by newcomer John Riggs. Each man placed his left hand on the Bible, raised his right hand and repeated the oath after DeLoach: "I do solemnly swear I will faithfully discharge all duties .... to the best of my ability, so help me God."
    Riggs used his mother's Bible for his oath.
    Brannen was surrounded by his grandchildren after the ceremony as each one offered their grandpapa congratulations. He beamed as he held a grandson.
    He said he hopes to see everyone get along as a new council and that "everyone works for the betterment of the city, are on the same page, and are a good team."
    Riggs was enthusiastic about getting started as councilman.
    "I am very excited to finally begin working for the people of Statesboro," he said. "I know that the council members and mayor are off to a great start with enthusiasm, energy and the deep belief that together we can do good things to make Statesboro a better place.  I appreciate the opportunity and I will do my best to serve the citizens and the city itself."
    Blitch said he has a list of things he hopes to accomplish during the new year.
    "I hope we are all understanding, strong, and will work together for the betterment of the city and its people," he said.  "We have a good core of people."
    Also, Councilman Will Britt was voted in as mayor pro-tem. The vote was 4-0 in favor of Britt's being appointed to the seat. Britt was not immediately available for comment.
    Councilman Travis Chance, who did not attend the meeting due to an out-of-state funeral, said he sees the unanimous first vote of the council as a positive sign.
    "It was a 4-0 vote and that gives me hope for the council coming together and working together as the city moves forward," he said. "The council has been divided for so long now and hopefully this vote signals a change for the better - for the citizens and city employees, as well as for the council."
    Phil Boyum contributed to this story.