NEW MARTINSVILLE - John Brookover, Democrat nominee for Wetzel County sheriff, was sworn in as the department's new chief deputy Tuesday morning.
The appointment came from interim Wetzel County Sheriff Mike Koontz following Chief Deputy Rob Haught's departure last week. Koontz declined to give any information regarding Haught's departure but said the decision was an amicable one. Koontz said he sat down with Haught and had a discussion in which it was decided Haught would no longer work for the department.
The former chief deputy declined to give a public statement on the matter.
Haught was one of four Democrat candidates for sheriff on the May primary ballot. He narrowly lost the election. In that race, Brookover received 1,563 votes, Haught 1,187, Mark Eller 367 and Jeff Montgomery 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 Tuesday to discuss a variety of issues he has encountered, including payment of outstanding bills. Koontz said that during the last week he has been paying many invoices, including one dating back to November 2011 and another for more than $6,000.
Hoskins' resignation came amid concerns over alleged neglect of some of his administrative duties over the past year, according to Lemley and commission President Donald Mason.
"Some of our vendors weren't being paid in a timely manner," Mason previously said, noting there was ample money in the department's budget to cover those expenses.
At their Sept. 25 meeting, the commissioners discussed the possibility of finding a way for them to make the payments out of the sheriff's budget. Also at that meeting, Mason alleged 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," Commissioner Scott Lemley said of Hoskins. "These problems aren't just a result of the last election. These problems have been compounding for several months."
In the primary, the term-limited 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. Deputy Assessor Nita King came in third with 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 where he would be working for in his resignation. Hoskins has not returned calls seeking comment.
On Tuesday Koontz said he had spoken with local vendors and would get the outstanding bills of the sheriff's office "taken care of."
"We might run out of money before we run out of bills," Koontz quipped.
It was mentioned at the meeting that a "general audit" of the sheriff's department, excluding the tax office, would be conducted. Lemley said he had sent an inquiry to Mary C. DeMarco of Tetrick & Barlett PLLC of Clarksburg, W.Va., concerning the cost of such an audit for the period July 1, 2011, through Sept. 30, 2012.