The 99th General Assembly convened Wednesday with the swearing-in of legislators beginning new terms.

The 99th General Assembly convened Wednesday with the swearing-in of legislators beginning new terms. Among those taking the oath of office was freshman legislator Rusty Black (R-Chillicothe). Black, 55, retired from a career in public education last summer after 32 years (27 as an agriculture teacher with the Chillicothe R-2 School District). He was elected last fall to represent Missouri’s 7th District (Grundy, Linn and Livingston counties) in the House of Representatives. Black fills the vacancy that was created by Mike Lair, also a Republican from Chillicothe, who had reached term limits and was unable to seek re-election. Black has the same office telephone number as Lair (573-751-2917), but his office is located at 115C, a different location from Lair’s office. Andrew Adkins, who served as Lair’s legislative assistant toward the end of his public service, is being retained by Black and is also serving as the legislative assistant for 163rd District State Rep. Cody Smith, of Jasper County. Shortly following his election, Black participated in a freshman legislative tour which spanned nearly three weeks in December and included stops throughout Missouri. Black said that at this time he has no specific legislative agenda to push through; however, he has been in conversation about carrying a couple things in the House which he anticipates would create little controversy. “I think that will be a good way to get my feet wet,” he said. “My Number 1 goal is to learn as quick as I can to become more effective.” Black began his teaching career at Nodaway-Holt and taught there for five years. In 1989, he moved to Chillicothe where he taught agriculture. Raised in a conservative Democrat, Jerry Litton-era family, Black said he had been interested in public office – with aspirations of becoming governor – since the time Joseph Teasdale was elected Missouri governor in 1976. Black, at the time, was a high school student. He became interested in seeking the state representative post 10-12 years ago and decided that now was the right time. Committee assignments are expected to be posted by the end of next week. Black’s top choices for committees are Elementary and Secondary Education, Pensions, Budget, Agriculture, Employment Security and Rules. Among those present for Black’s swearing-in ceremony Wednesday were his wife, Karie, daughters Jessica (of Hallsville, Mo.) and Jaryn, (of Kansas City); two grandchildren, his parents, his wife’s parents and several friends from the Chillicothe area. On Monday, his entire immediate family, including sons Jameson, of Chillicothe, and Jon, of Clear Lake, Iowa, are planning to be present for the inauguration of Governor-Elect Eric Greitens.