Patty Lyon was looking for a challenge. She got that challenge as she was sworn in as the new District 6 chief probation officer Friday during a ceremony in the Washington County District Courtroom.

Lyon replaces Bob Denton, who was recently promoted.

“I owe a lot of gratitude to Bob,” Lyon said through tears. “I learned a lot from him. It's kind of bittersweet being his replacement. Those are big shoes to fill.”

Judge John E. Samson administered the oath of office to Lyon in front of a room full of probation officers, administrators, staff, family and friends. The 13 other chief probation officers from across the state were in attendance as were Washington County Court Judge C. Matthew Samuelson and Dodge County Court Judge Kenneth Vampola. Both serve District 6.

“I've known you for many years and I've witnessed your professionalism and your exemplary work ethic not only as a probation officer, but you've served as the drug court coordinator,” Samson said.

Samson started the drug court programs in Dodge and Washington counties.

“Not only do you have the professionalism, but you have a couple of other qualities that I think make you very effective in your current position,” Samson said. “You have good people skills and you also have a good sense of humor. Both of those will serve you well in your present capacity.”

Samuelson and Vampola congratulated Lyon on her promotion.

“I'm so proud of you and so pleased for you,” Samuelson said. “I know you're going to do a tremendous job.”

Lyon, originally from Newcastle, began her career with the Nebraska Probation System in Blair in 2000. In August 2008, Lyon was promoted to problem solving court coordinator in District 6 in Fremont. She also served as the drug court coordinator.

In 2012, Lyon was awarded the Bob Keller Memorial Award as Supervisor of the Year. In November 2015, Lyon's role expanded with the addition of the drug court program in Washington County. She was in charge of the drug testing probationer program and supervised two drug court treatment officers, one CBI treatment officer and five drug technicians.

Lyon is a 1996 graduate of Newcastle High School. She received her associate's degree in health and human services from Southeast Community College in 1998. She received her bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Bellevue University in 2000. In 2014, she earned her master's degree in organizational management from Chadron State College.

Lyon knew that she wanted to be a probation officer after shadowing an officer during her senior year of high school.

“I've always wanted to help people,” Lyon said.

Ellen Fabian Brokofsky, state probation administrator, said probation officers believe their work is their calling.

“Very special people become probation officers,” she said. “Very special people become chief probation officers.”

Lyon's husband, Travis, is a sergeant and K-9 handler for the Blair Police Department. They have three children: Sophie, 5, and twins Weston and Knox, 2.