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BENNINGTON — Family, friends and colleagues gathered Wednesday morning at the Bennington County courthouse as key county officials were sworn in to new — or in some cases, their first terms — of office.

The officials, including a new county sheriff and Probate Court judge, were elected in November.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Superior Court Judge John Valente said the event was “more than just people lifting up their hands and saying some words. To me, it really is the recognition of the citizens of the county of Bennington placing their trust in their county officials, and these county officials accepting that trust.”

What those present witnessed, the judge said, “is very important to the history of Bennington and the life of Bennington County, so we appreciate you all being here and sharing this moment.”


Valente swore in newly elected Probate Judge Lon McClintock and asked retiring Probate Judge C. Justine Scanlon to stand alongside as he did so. The two were law office partners for many years.

“We’ve been partners for 20 years, and to say I’ve learned a lot from Justine about how to a lawyer is an understatement,” McClintock said.

“I learned a lot from Justine on how to be a judge,” Valente said.

Both had courthouse offices, he said, adding, “It was very easy for me to go next door and say, you know, ‘Any thoughts or ideas on this.’”

Those being sworn in Wednesday each had many experiences that brought them to the offices they now hold, McClintock said. “But all of the people in this room contributed to all of us in ways they may know or not know, and to be here with the people who have been so important all those years is incredibly meaningful.”

James Gulley, a former police officer with both the Bennington and Manchester departments and former criminal justice instructor with the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center, was sworn in by Assistant Bennington County Judge Mary Frost.

He said prior to the event that he looks forward to serving in the position and rolling out details of a strategic plan for the office he put forth during his election campaign.

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Gulley also swore in Stephannie Peters Wednesday as the director of administration for the office of county sheriff.

Gulley replaces Chad Schmidt, who did not seek re-election last year after serving as sheriff since 2009.

Valente also swore in the assistant Bennington County judges, Frost and Brian Peat.

Bennington County Clerk Marya Bossong, who has served in the position since 2010, was sworn in by Frost.

Frost was appointed in 2021 to fill a vacancy in the assistant judge post after Wesley Mook retired, and then was elected to a full term in November.

Peat also was elected in November. He replaces Assistant Judge James Colvin, who did not seek re-election.

Colvin also was recognized Wednesday by Valente for his service to the county.

High Bailiff Frederick Gilbar, who was first elected to a two-year term in 2014 and won another term in November, was recognized by Valente on his recent retirement from the Bennington County Sheriff’s Department and his years of service providing security at the courthouse.

“I very much appreciated him being here,” Valente said. “I always felt safe, I always felt secure. And you always did your job with a great smile and a great attitude, and I appreciated it.”

Erica Marthage was sworn in for her fifth four-year term as State’s Attorney, having first been elected in 2006.

She then swore in her deputy prosecutors, including Robert Plunkett, Alexander Burke, Jared Bianchi and Andrew Bevacqua.

John Maloney, who is retiring from the courthouse maintenance position Feb. 17, was recognized by Valente for his work over many years “maintaining this beautiful building.”

Jim Therrien can be reached at or by phone at 413-281-2646.

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