NEW CUMBERLAND - The year drawing to a close is bringing staff changes to Hancock County government offices, including departures and at least one retirement.
Sheriff Mike White is leaving office after eight years in that position to become the next magistrate, a judge that presides over predominately misdemeanor cases. He joins Magistrates Michael Powell and Scott Hicks, all three of whom were sworn in on Thursday.
At Thursday's county commissioners' meeting, White thanked commissioners for their support.
NEW SHERIFF — Incoming Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher took the oath of office on Thursday from 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson. He will assume office on Jan. 1. Other county office-holders who took the oath at the Hancock County Courthouse were Commissioner Jeff Davis, Prosecutor Jim Davis, incumbent Magistrates Scott Hicks and Michael Powell, newly elected Magistrate Mike White and Assessor Joseph Alongi.
-- Stephen Huba
MAGISTRATE — Outgoing Hancock County Sheriff Mike White smiled Thursday after 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson inadvertently substituted the word “sheriff” for “magistrate” in White’s oath of office. They started the oath over, and White will take office as the newest of three magistrates on Jan. 1.
-- Stephen Huba
"I enjoyed working with you over the years," he said.
Commissioner Dan Greathouse acknowledged that White and the commissioners didn't always "see eye to eye" and even argued sometimes, but then added, "I appreciate working with you also."
Succeeding White as sheriff on Jan. 1 will be former Weirton Police Chief Ralph Fletcher, who, along with six other officials, also was sworn in on Thursday. The swearing-in ceremony was led by 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge Ronald Wilson in a packed courtroom.
Accompanying White to the magistrate's office will be sheriff's department records clerk Amy Six, who will serve as magistrate clerk. Commissioners approved her request to be paid $891.66 for 11 accrued vacation and personal days.
They also approved sheriff's department executive assistant Carol Farish's request to be paid $3,435.60 for 24 accrued vacation days. She also will use 70 days of sick and personal leave hours toward her retirement service. Farish is retiring effective Dec. 31 after 23 years of service, White said.
Commissioners tabled action on a similar request from Chief Deputy Todd Murray, who has 30 accrued vacation days and 285 days of accrued sick leave after 19 and a half years of service.
Murray, 52, is considering retiring but also is awaiting word from Fletcher whether he will be retained as chief deputy or be asked to serve in some other capacity. Fletcher has been interviewing candidates for the chief deputy position, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the sheriff's department.
Commissioners are scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Wednesday to consider Murray's request, which adds up to $58,665.60.
Also Thursday, commissioners approved the resignation of Jolene Zuros from the Hancock County Abandoned Building Ordinance Committee. Zuros is retiring as sanitarian from the Hancock County Health Department effective Dec. 31. Commissioners appointed health department Administrator Jackie Huff to the committee in her place.
In other business, commissioners renewed a lease agreement with New Cumberland Christian Church, 103 Court St., for the use of eight regular parking spaces and two handicapped spaces behind the church for county business. Rent on the spaces has been increased to $600 a year, Commissioner Jeff Davis said. The new lease runs through Dec. 31, 2018.