WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — Washington County officially has a new group of leaders after a public swearing in ceremony Tuesday morning.

From the new county judge, to justices of the peace, to local mayors and even the county clerk, all repeated after Circuit Court Judge Stacey Zimmerman, pledging to defend the constitution of the United States and Arkansas and to faithfully execute their positions.

“It was pretty neat and, you know, my son came down from Kansas City to watch,” said JP Fred Anderson, District 4. “Very special, especially having this.”

Anderson brought his family heirloom Bible with him to swear on.

“It’s my great grandfather’s Bible printed in 1844 back in Michigan,” he said.

When others being sworn in didn’t have a Bible with them to take the oath, Anderson offered his for others to use. The majority of people sworn in during Tuesday’s ceremony did it on this historic Bible.

“I never expected that today,” he said with a laugh. “I thought it was just going to be me and that was it.”

One of those people who took the oath on the Anderson family Bible was JP Beth Coger for District 9.

“It meant so much to have my friends and family here,” she said. “My friends are my family and I was just honored to have them stand up there with me because they’ve been with me on this journey for the past four years.”

Another leader sworn in was Sheriff Jay Cantrell.

“Law enforcement is kind of a calling. It’s something that a lot of people have as a small child, that they want to be law enforcement. I didn’t have that actually,” he said.

Cantrell thought he would follow in the footsteps of his family and work for the Rural Electric Co-Op. He saw how much his family, who did work for the company, enjoyed being able to help others in their times of need.

However, his dream changed at a precise moment.

“In March in 1981, Paul Mueller, the police chief down at West Fork, was murdered while on a traffic stop,” he said. “I was 21 years old and I saw how the community came together.”

He said he fell in love with the job and found his own way of serving others. But, did he ever think he’d be sheriff?

“Never really thought about it,” he said with a laugh. “It was never like I’ve got this burning desire to be sheriff someday.”

He has gotten a lot of time working close to the position. He worked as Sheriff Tim Helder’s Chief Deputy from the time Helder took office in 2005.

“I think if anything I take away from him will be his ability to build those relationships, to communicate with people and to always be willing to listen,” he said.

He already has some challenges the department is facing that he’d like to start addressing.

“Our two big challenges, one is the jail issue with the jail beds that we have and trying to adequately portion them, and then recruiting and retention,” he said.

JP Coger said she also has some goals regarding the county jail and court system.

“I want to start with pre-trial services for the Washington County Detention Center,” she said. “We need a mental health court and expanded drug court and expanded veterans court.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to fall in behind Sheriff Helder,” said Cantrell “He set the bar high, but he’s given us all the tools that we need to succeed and we’ll use every one of them.”

The first quorum court meeting of the new year with the new JPs is on Thursday, January 19.