Batton sworn in as new Choctaw Chief

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DURANT, OK -- The Choctaw Nation has a new chief.

Gary Batton was sworn in as chief Monday.

He's been the assistant chief for the last seven years and is now taking over as chief following Chief Gregory Pyle's retirement.

Monday News 12 talked with Batton and he says he's got some big plans.

Gary Batton took the oath of office Monday morning, officially becoming the new chief of the Choctaw Nation.

Batton saidm "I am just so honored and humbled is the only way I can describe it."

The ceremony took place three days after Chief Gregory Pyle, who had been the chief since 1997, officially retired in order to spend more time with his family.

Pyle said, "Gonna buy a boat and take my grand kids out and spoil them."

Pyle and Batton have known each other for nearly 30 years.

Batton started working for the Choctaw Nation in 1987 with the housing authority and health services authority, he was appointed assistant chief 20 years later.

Pyle says he knows Batton is fully qualified for the job.

Pyle says, "he's young, and he can still put those 18 hour days in, back to back that's needed for this job." and Batton may be working those hours because he says he has a lot of projects to get started on.

Like the new wellness centers, one of which is expected to open in atoka in the next few months and the casino expansion, which will create hundreds of jobs.

Batton said, "I want to become be the number one employer in oklahoma for tone thing, love for the choctaw nation to become world renown in the future."

Since Batton was appointed to finish the remaining year of Pyle's term Batton will face re-election next year but for now he says he is excited for this new journey.

Batton said, "I just believe God has led me to this position. It's truly my ministry."