Democratic nominee for Wetzel County Sheriff John Brookover was sworn in as the department's new chief deputy Tuesday morning.
The appointment came from interim Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz after Chief Deputy Rob Haught's departure last week. Koontz said he could not give any information regarding Haught's departure, but when asked if the decision was an amicable one, Koontz stated it was. He said the two sat down and had a discussion in which it was decided Haught would no longer be with the department.
The former chief deputy declined to give a public statement on the matter.
Chief Deputy John Brookover
Haught was one of four Democratic candidates for sheriff on the primary ballot. He narrowly lost the election. In that race Brookover gathered 1,563 votes, Haught had 1,187 votes, Mark Eller received 367 votes, while Jeff Montgomery got 132.
In the general election Brookover will face Jeffrey-Frank Jarrell of the Constitution Party.
Koontz, who the Wetzel County Commission appointed as interim sheriff on Oct. 2 following the resignation of former Sheriff James Hoskins, appeared before the commission to discuss a variety of items he has encountered.
Perhaps the most pressing issue is the payment of outstanding bills. Koontz said that over the last week he has been paying many invoices, one dating back to almost a year ago, November 2011, and another being in the amount of over $6,000.
The issue of non-payment by the sheriff's department has been an ongoing problem. At the Sept. 25 meeting, the commissioners discussed the possibility of finding a way for them to make the payments out of the sheriff's budget. "The thing of it is, the money's in his budget," said Commission Vice President Bob Gorby at the time.
Also at that Sept. 25 meeting President Don Mason said the problems with Hoskins' fulfillment of duties were not confined to bill payment. He said the law enforcement coverage of the county was directionless.
"It's just a complete lack of regard for the people of Wetzel County who put him in there," said Lemley of then Sheriff Hoskins. "These problems aren't just a result of the last election, these problems have been compounding for several months."
In the primary Hoskins had run for the Democratic nomination to be the next Wetzel County Assessor. Lemley won the nod with 1,208 votes, closely followed by Hoskins with 1,150 votes cast in his favor. Deputy Assessor Nita King came in third with a respectable 904 votes. Current Assessor Ralph Phillips is retiring at the end of this term.
According to Lemley, Hoskins left to take another job but did not disclose what company he would be working for in his letter of resignation.
On Tuesday Koontz said he had made rounds to speak with local vendors in the past week and he would get the outstanding bills of the sheriff's office "taken care of." Koontz jokingly stated, "We might run out of money before we run out of bills."
Furthermore, it was mentioned at the commission meeting that a "general audit" of the sheriff's department, excluding the tax office, would be done. Lemley stated to fellow commissioners Gorby and Mason that he had sent an inquiry to Mary C. DeMarco of Tetrick & Barlett, PLLC, of Clarksburg, W.Va., concerning the cost of such an audit, beginning at July 1, 2011, and ending at September 30, 2012.
In another matter, Koontz brought forth the idea of a credit card for the Sheriff's Department. He stated he had looked into a purchase card, but then realized that each deputy in the sheriff's department would have to have one, as a purchase card is individualized and cannot be given to another deputy to buy something.
Koontz stated that the issue of a purchase card had come up because recently, deputies had to extradite someone from Georgia and had to pay travel costs out of their own pockets.
The commission then voted and approved of a credit card for the sheriff's department.
Koontz reported the Sheriff's Department now has a new car on the road, as the vehicle had been in Parkersburg for the past couple months but was now in New Martinsville. Koontz stated there would probably be one more invoice on the vehicle and the total cost for the new car would be close to $35,000.
Koontz added that the department could actually use two, if not three, new cars. Koontz also said the department would most likely be needing new radios, as at the beginning of the year a "narrow band" frequency would be required on radios. Koontz said these radios have a "tighter" frequency and will be compatible with those at the 911 center. Koontz said he knew of at least three officers whose radios should be compatible with the new required frequency and if the three desired cars were purchased for the department, then "at least half the fleet would be equipped."
It was decided that sealed bids for old department vehicles would be sought, instead of having a public auction, as sealed bids would be "quicker and a lot less work." The vehicles would be advertised in both the Wetzel Chronicle and The Intelligencer.
At a future meeting, Koontz will provide commissioners with a list of the requested items-the radios and the cars-and their prices.
Finally, Koontz reported that he would like to have a civil service exam soon, so an active list would be in place for possible deputies, if the department ever lost one or would need one.