Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Curtis Keels and Vasker Bartell, Jr. were sworn in as Williamsburg County Mag-istrate judges Thursday, June 12, at the magistrate's office in Kingstree. Williamsburg County government staff and administration, members of the sheriff's office, attorneys, public officials as well as family and friends, witnessed the ceremony.
Judge William Driggers presented a formal welcome. In his remarks, Driggers spoke about the newly appointed members of the court. “It has been said that anything on a house can be fixed if sitting on a solid foundation,” said Driggers. “These two gentleman epitomize that adage.”
Chief Magistrate Judge Delores Williams administered the oath of office. Afterward Williams welcomed Keels and Bartell into the group. “I believe you are going to be a great asset to the office,” said Williams. “And we welcome you to the finest magistrate office in the state.” Judge Williams added that Senator Yancey McGill sent his congratulations, saying he was very proud of the judges. The senator was attending the funeral of a fellow senator.
Judge Wilmot McCutchen welcomed the judges by recalling his short time as a magistrate. “I've enjoyed being here for over two years now,” said McCutchen. “It seems a short time back when I started but time flies.” McCutchen joked that he could now pass on a special title designated to him by seasoned Judge Driggers. “Now when you hear Judge Driggers say “send them back to one of the rookie judges, they will go by my office and into your office.”
Judge Bartell is a Williamsburg County native. He retired with 23 years of service to the Administrative Office of United States Office of Probation and Pretrial Services.
Curtis Keels is also a lifelong resident of Williamsburg County. “I look forward to serving the citizens of this county,” said Bartell. “It is indeed humbling and an honor and I hope I will be able to fulfill this role with fairness and wear blinders as any judge might would wear.”
Judge Keels recently retired from South Carolina Department of Probation and Parole after serving in that capacity for 23 years. He retired from military service in 2010, after serving 31 years. Both have the knowledge and experience having spent years of experience in the courtroom and now they will continue those responsibilities only in a different direction.