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Leyens, Young, Beauman sworn in

Municipal Court Judge Allen Derivaux, at left in the top photo, administers the oath of office to Mayor Laurence E. Leyens as his wife, Kaki, holds the Bible. Holding the Leyenses’ daughter, Madison, at rear, is the Rev. Casey Fisher, the minister Leyens chose to pray on his behalf during Sunday’s swearing-in ceremony. In the lower photos, South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, left center, takes his oath as his wife, Laura, holds the Bible. He was sworn in by Municipal Court Judge Allen Derivaux, left. At right, Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick administers the oath to North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young as her husband, Joseph, holds the Bible. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[07/02/01] More than 1,000 people watched and cheered Sunday as members of Vicksburg’s new administration took their oaths.

Monday, the three members held their first board meeting. Charged by the city charter with immediately naming certain administrative officers, they unanimously reappointed all who had been serving in city posts to new terms.

In brief remarks at the Vicksburg Convention Center, Mayor Laurence Leyens promised a different way of doing business for the government than in the previous 12 years.

Monday, he proposed a new organizational charter that, he said, substantially reconfigures city lines of authority for the first time since 1911.

“Today is an important day for Vicksburg,” Leyens said. “We have a unique opportunity to make the next four years anything we would like it to be.”

Leyens, 37, an independent, North Ward Alderman Gertrude Young, 45, and South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman, 53, took their oaths separately to serve as the city’s three elected officials until 2005.

Monday, they became the first administration in memory to return all political appointees from City Attorney Nancy Thomas to Fire Chief Kevin Westbook, City Clerk Walter Osborne and Police Chief Mitchell Dent to new terms.

“See, we’re already a 3-0 board,” Leyens said about halfway through the list of appointments.

Municipal Court Judge Allen Derivaux administered the oath to Leyens, the Rev. Casey Fisher followed with a prayer.

Fisher, a Vicksburg letter carrier and minister of Grove Street Baptist Church, received a standing ovation after his remarks about the state of race relations in Vicksburg.

“It’s time to quit living in our white Vicksburg and our black Vicksburg and start living in our Vicksburg,” Fisher said.

Young, the only returning board member, won her third term after defeating two opponents in the Democratic primary and one in the general election. Young, who served with Walker and Loviza, said that the start of the new administration marks a new beginning for the city.

“We must lose the bondage of old Vicksburg and its old way of thinking,” she said. “I hope that under the Leyens administration everyone will truly be a part of it.”

She was sworn in by Warren County Circuit Judge Isadore Patrick and a prayer was offered by Dr. Franklin L. Lassiter of Mount Carmel M.B. Church.

Beauman, a Republican and the former parks and recreation director for the city, replaced Sam Habeeb, who did not seek re-election. During his brief remarks after being sworn in by Derivaux, Beauman read the definitions of knowledge, wisdom and common sense.

“I hope that the next four years will be filled with knowledge, wisdom and common sense,” he said. “The only way that is going to happen is with your help.”

City board members taking office in 1993 and 1997 were sworn in on the front steps at City Hall, but the event was moved to the convention center for the first time this year to accommodate the expected larger turn-out. Four years ago, about 550 people crammed onto the sidewalk in front of City Hall for the inauguration.

Leyens said his run for office was prompted by seeing untapped potential in Vicksburg.

Leyens also said he plans to make changes in the city’s television station, Cable Channel 23. Monday morning, he said the board’s meetings with city department heads will also be open to the public and air on the cable channel.