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Putnam sheriff seeks staff reorganization

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- The Putnam County sheriff requested a reorganization of his staff during Tuesday's county commission meeting that will include four new corporal positions and would remedy the practice of officers without ranks supervising others during some work shifts.

According to Sheriff Steve Deweese, the ongoing medical leave requested by two of his officers and the retirement of a third has forced the sheriff's department to allow two of four work shifts to be overseen by unranked deputies, which is unusual.

Deweese said that by promoting existing officers within the department, he will be able to have two corporals covering each shift and he can avoid the problem in the future.

"We've really never been in this situation before, where we have deputies running shifts," Deweese said.

Sgt. Rick Painter, a 26-year veteran of the department, will retire this week, and Deweese said adjusting the rank structure to include four more corporals while eliminating the need for another sergeant will allow the department to create the new positions with only an additional $13,000.

Adding one deputy to road patrol, Deweese said, will fill Painter's position.

"To me, it seems like a great bargain. If we can spend just over $13,000 and put another deputy on the road, I would think it's a no-brainer," said commission President Joe Haynes.

According to Deweese, the sheriff's department receives between 1,400 and 1,600 calls for assistance each month, or roughly 50 calls each day. The commission approved the request, which also must be approved by the Putnam County Civil Service Commission.

Putnam County Clerk Brian Wood also swore in two new officers Monday morning, and Deweese said they should be ready for duty by January or February.

The commission also reviewed the quarterly financial updates of several county agencies during the meeting. The commission has requested all of the county agencies it funds to submit updates at its meetings in response to the Putnam County Health Department's recent financial problems.

The county's convention and visitors' bureau, development authority and library each submitted financial reports during the meeting. The county's health department, which was also slated to give a report during the meeting, has deferred its report until the commission's next regular meeting.

The Putnam CVB reported a $22,000 balance for the end of the last fiscal year, which executive director Linda Bush said was a result of increased revenue from the county's hotel/motel tax, which funds the CVB and Putnam County Parks and Recreation.

According to Bush, the CVB has distributed more than 33,000 pamphlets and promotional materials this year, and will consider funding a mini-grant from the extra funds it has generated that people who head up various festival and activity boards may apply for in the future.

"People should never say, 'we have nothing to do,' because if they did everything we have listed in our pamphlet, they'd be busy," she said.

Reach Lydia Nuzum at lydia.nuzum@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5189.


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