It was a sad, but necessary chore for the Wyoming County Commission. Naming a replacement to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff C.S. Parker, who died Dec. 24, took less than 30 minutes Friday morning.
Prosecutor Mike Cochrane explained that the commission has only 30 days to fill the vacancy left by Parker's death.
Cochrane emphasized the sheriff's position is a vital office and had to be filled quickly for the daily operations of the courthouse to continue as required by law.
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Following two short executive sessions, Sheriff's Lt. Randy Brooks was named to fill the unexpired term.
Brooks has been with the county Sheriff's Department since 1993. He began his law enforcement career with the Man Police Department in 1988, then moved to the Pineville Police Department in 1991. Brooks was assistant police chief when he moved to the Sheriff's Department.
“I want to thank the commission for their faith in me,” Brooks said following the appointment.
“I will do my best to do what the county needs.”
Jewell Aguilar, county clerk, administered the oath of office after the commission approved a leave of absence for Brooks while he fills the year left on Parker's unexpired term.
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Chief Deputy Brad Ellison was offered the sheriff's job following the commission's first executive session.
Ellison was Parker's choice as his replacement, according to county officials.
Ellison, however, chose not to accept the position.
“We talked about it many days in the Sheriff's Office,” Ellison said through tears.
Ellison plans to run for sheriff in next year's election. If he accepted the position Friday, the year he would serve to fill Parker's unexpired term would count as an entire term for Ellison.
Sheriffs in West Virginia are limited to two consecutive terms.
“I want to serve the people of Wyoming County for eight years (two four-year terms) as sheriff,” Ellison told commissioners. “If I take the appointment, I will lose three years of that.
“I respectfully thank you, but I will have to decline,” Ellison said.
Jason Mullins, commission president, then asked Ellison to make a recommendation from the Sheriff's Department.
Ellison recommended Sheriff's Lt. Randy Brooks and retired Deputy Teddy Riffe.
Commissioner Randall Aliff, who is also a former sheriff, recommended retired Deputy Jack Bias and Prosecutor Mike Cochrane suggested Tax Deputy Sherri Bland for consideration as well.
Following the second executive session, Brooks was appointed with a 3-0 vote.
“Even though it is a short appointment, the job of sheriff carries a lot of responsibility,” Aliff said before the appointment was made.
The sheriff is responsible for the tax office and oversees the deputies, Aliff noted.
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Sheriff Parker will Lie-In-State in the Wyoming County Courthouse lobby Sunday, Dec. 29, from noon until 4 p.m. for the public to pay their respects. He will then be taken to the Mullens Middle School gym, where the family will receive friends from 6 until 8 p.m.
Funeral services are scheduled Monday, Dec. 30, at 11 a.m. in the Mullens Middle School auditorium. Burial will follow in Roselawn Memorial Gardens, Princeton.