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New Comanche County commissioner sworn in

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LAWTON, Okla_Comanche County's new central district commissioner officially took office Tuesday. Johnny Owens' arrival at the commissioner's office brings an end to the 10 month absence of a Central District Commissioner, after Ron Kirby's sudden resignation from the position in February. Owens and the other two commissioners say they're ready to get to work on county business.

The eastern district and western district commissioners have been splitting the duties of the central district; which includes the courthouse and the county jail.  While they were able to manage that along with the duties to their districts, the commissioners say now Owens can concentrate on that area.

Owens said that is exactly what he plans to do. He said he wants to start by meticulously going through the courthouse.

"To see how the deferred maintenance is and get to know the employees. That is going to be something that is going to help me a lot and with the girls up here in this office, they know more about this office than probably anybody does. So, I am going to lean on them, I just look forward to working with them."

Commissioners Don Hawthorne and Gail Turner say Owens, a well-known Lawton businessman, brings a new perspective to the table.

"When you run your own business it's a difference than working for somebody else. Johnny's run his own business and do that kind of stuff. He was on the excise board when I came aboard, so he understands a lot about county government already," Turner said.

The commissioners agree that, when it comes to making decisions for the county, Owens' business background will work well with Hawthorne's 33 years of government experience and Turner's construction background.

"Even though there are disagreements, there's harmony if you go about it the right way, three heads are better than two. I always like to hear other people's ideas and perspectives. I think its going to benefit the county. It brings another perspective of how best to do the county's business," Hawthorne said.

The commissioners all say that they want to maintain an open and honest form of government, so residents will know what is going on in their district.

"I just want the people in the central district especially to understand that they've got a voice now for the central district. If people got questions, they can call me up here anytime and I will return phone calls," Owens said.

Owens was elected central district commissioner last week. He beat Lawton City Councilman Bill Shoemate and Lawton businessman Dwight Tanner for the seat.

He was allowed to be sworn now, rather than the usual January date, since the position has been vacant for so long.

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