There’s a new sheriff in town, although the face is familiar to most.

Community and family members, law enforcement and public officials gathered in the Kittitas County Superior Courtroom Friday to witness the swearing in of Kittitas County Sheriff Clay Myers. Judge Scott Sparks presided over the ceremony. As Myers stood before the judge to begin the process, Sparks opened with a few welcoming remarks.

“It is a very important day for the people of Kittitas County,” Sparks said. “It is my understanding that the hat is part of the uniform.”

As Myers took the oath and was instructed to sign the official document naming him sheriff, Judge Sparks had one last joking remark before the process was complete.

“This is the last time to change your mind,” Sparks said.

A change of mind was not in the cards, however, for Myers. He is taking the reins of the office from now-retired Gene Dana, who held the office since 1999. Myers has been with the Sheriff’s Office since 1985, holding various positions including corrections officer, detective, deputy, patrol sergeant, chief of operations and chief criminal deputy. He has served in his most recent position as undersheriff for 15 years.

Outside of the Sheriff’s Office, Myers is also highly visible in the community. He was recently elected to the Ellensburg Rodeo Board and has served positions on various task forces and advisory boards including the Ellensburg Rotary, Upper County Task Force and Kittitas County Fair Board.

“Thank you all for the continued support of the Sheriff’s Office,” Myers said as he addressed the crowd at the ceremony. “I’m just proud. It’s a humbling thing following in Gene’s footsteps, but we have a great team and a great community. We feel very fortunate. I look forward to it.”

WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

Kittitas County Prosecutor Greg Zempel said he was tickled pink to have Myers take over the job from Dana.

“I first met Clay 29 years ago when I was in private practice,” Zempel said. “We began educating each other back and forth back then and that will continue. The good news is I don’t have to train you much.”

Dana shared congratulatory comments wish Myers as he finished the swearing in process.

“Good luck,” Dana said to laughter in the crowd. “We have the same team on board that I had working for me and they made me look good, so you can feel confident moving forward that you have a team supporting you and making the county safe.”

In a recent interview, Dana said the experience Myers has under his belt makes him a great fit for the position.

“It’s great,” Dana said. “He’s been supportive of me. He’s been my No. 1 guy behind me to support me and back me up when I wasn’t here. He’s worked really hard at his job, so he’s earned it.”

Dana said there are also benefits to the Sheriff’s office and the community with Myers being appointed sheriff, due to his experience working with both.

“If an unknown came in, the learning curve is there,” he said. “Also, people are nervous about what that person’s going to be like.”

With experience comes reputation, and Dana said Myers has that in his court as he begins his new position.

“He’s well liked,” he said. “He’s very active in the community too, kind of like me. Well liked by the other sheriffs. He’ll fit right in.”

While Dana currently holds the record for the longest serving sheriff in the history of the county, he said he wouldn’t at all be bothered if Myers took on the task to break his record.

“It’s going to take him 20 years to do it,” Dana said with a laugh.

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