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Schuylkill court officials sworn in during ceremony

Published December 31. 2009 01:02PM

Peggy Zimmerman, of Walker Township, took her final oath as Schuylkill County Jury Commisisoner at a ceremonial proceedings held Tuesday morning at the Schuylkill County Courthouse in Pottsville. She was re-elected in the November general election to her sixth term and she plans to retire when her term expires.

She was first elected in 1988 and in the last election was the top vote getter of any of the county candidates.

Also taking the oath were District Attorney James P. Goodman, re-elected to his second term; Sheriff Joseph G. Groody, elected to his first full term as he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Francis McAndrew, who resigned and was elected county commissioner; District Justice David A. Plachko, re-elected to his fourth term to the Magisterial District 21-3-01, which includes the boroughs of New Philadelphia, Middleport, Port Carbon, PaloAlto, Mount Carbon, Mechanicsville and Saint Clair and the townships of East Norwegian, New Castle, Blythe, Schuylkill and North Manheim; District Justice Anthony J. Kilker, re-elected to his first full term as he was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by the retirement of William A. Slezosky, to the Magisterial District, 21-3-05, which includes the boroughs of Ringtown, Shenandoah and Mahanoy City and the townships of Delano, Mahanoy, East Union, Union and North Union and Jury Commissioner Edward M. Kleha re-eleced to his third term.

The county judges sat en banc in their black robes. Missing were Judge John E. Domalakes who is recuperating from a hip replacement surgery and Jacqueline Russell who reported sick. Seated were Associate Judges Cyrus Palmer Dolbin, D. Michael Stine and Charles M. Miller.

Also seated wearing their black robes were the eight district justices. President Judge William E. Baldwin administered the oath as each elected candidate stepped up to the podium with members of their family.

Jury Commissioner Zimmerman had her son, Wayne Zimmerman, hold the bible and she was surrounded by her husband, Ron Zimmerman; daughter-in-law Vicki Zimmerman and grandchildren Heather, Heidi and Hailey and great grandson Kyle.

District Attorney Goodman had his wife , Maria, hold the bible and he was surrounded by his five daugthers, Cattlin, Erin, Kelly, Lauren and Megan. His father, James P. Goodman Sr., former state legislator and who headed the state liquor control board, was in the audience.

Sheriff Groody had his wife, Ann Marie, hold the bible and he was surrounded by his mother, Theresa Groody; daughter, Faith, and son, Joey.

District Justice Platchko had his wife, Jane, hold the bible and he was surrounded by his son, Tyler and Jacob. His parents, Jack and Anna Plachko were present.

District Justice Kilker had his young son, Michael, hold the bible and he was surrounded by his daughters, Taylor, Kaci and Kylie.

Jury Commissioner Kleha had a friend, Mary Wetzel, hold the bible and he was surrounded by his mother, Mary Kleha, sister, Helen Selgrade and brother-in-law Robert Selgrade.

A number of dignitaries sat in the jury box and were introduced by Judge Baldwin. They were:

Congressman Tim Holden, State Senator Dave Argall, State Representatives, Neal Goodman, 123rd District; Jerry Knowles, 124th District and Tim Seip, 125th District; Schuylkill County Commissioners Mantura Gallagher, Francis McAndrew and Frank Staudenmeier; Prothonotary Peter J. Symons, Recorder of Deeds Mathew Dudish, Clerk of Courts Stephen Lukach, Register of Wills Michael McGovern; Coroner Joseph Lipsett and Attorney William Burke, president elect of the Schuylkill County Bar Association.

Judge Baldwin welcomed more than 200 people who filled Court Room Number One to witness the ceremony and at the conclusion wished everyone a Happy New Year.

Jury Commissioner Zimmerman's announcement of retirement may also see the end of the jury commissioner positions as there is bill pending in the state legislature to abolish the positilons. Two jury commissioners are elected every four years, one from each of the two major political parties. Zimmerman represents the Republican Party and Kleha is the county chairman of the Democratic Party. When the position was established the jury commissioners had the responsibility to fill a jury "wheel" each December with names of citizens to be called for jury duty during the hear. The court would fix the number of jurors to be placed in the wheel, however, this position was abandoned a number of years when a new policy was adopted that juror names be picked at random. In Schuylkill County they are taken from the registered voter list which left the jury commissioners with ceremonial duties. Zimmerman said she had tried to install into a policy permission for a jury commissioner to add to the jury list the names of several people who wanted to serve but was not allowed.

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