LIVE OAK — A new year, a new chairman for the Suwannee County Board of County Commissioners.

At the start of board's Nov. 18 meeting, it approved a new chairman for the next year. Ricky Gamble has served as the board chair for the past three years.

The board unanimously approved Len Stapleton as the new chairman — he will start presiding over meetings at the board’s Dec. 3 meeting, or sooner if an emergency or special meeting is called — following a nomination from Clyde Fleming.

“I appreciate the trust you’re putting in me,” Stapleton said at the end of the meeting.

Don Hale was reappointed as the board’s vice chair.

Gamble provided some advice for his successor.

“I’ve enjoyed the last three years as chairman,” he said. “I can tell you I learned a lot more as chairman, and I believe you will, than you do as a commissioner without being in the chair.

“This is a job that there’s no training for. I wish you the best of luck. You have good staff, rely on them, but at the same time, use your own judgement. Stand up and be yourself and everything will be good for us.”

The commissioners also thanked Gamble for his leadership the past three years.

“I’m proud of you,” Fleming said.

Hale added: “I think you’ve done well by leading us. And congratulations to Commissioner Stapleton. You have some big shoes to fill.”

Jamie Wachter is the editor of the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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