By Stephen Smoot
The Pendleton County Commission’s search for a new sheriff overcame a major hurdle last week.
In October, current sheriff Chad Bowers submitted a letter of resignation to the county commission. He informed the body that he would soon have accumulated enough years in public service to retire and intended to do so. Bowers stated that his retirement would be effective on Dec. 2.
Within a few weeks, the commission had reviewed replacement candidates and reached out to Nathan Hartwell of Roanoke, Virginia. Hartwell, who carries law enforcement experience from multiple jurisdictions, accepted the position. The commission approved his hiring in a November regular meeting.
For what Hartwell described as “personal reasons,” however, he resigned from the post before his official start date. He also expressed his apologies to the commission for the inconvenience.
Last week, the county commission held a special meeting to confirm another candidate for the position, Bradley Kimble.
Kimble served for four years with the West Virginia Department of Corrections at multiple facilities. He said after his appointment, “I’m from Pendleton County. I wanted to come back home.”
To return to his native county, Kimble applied for an open position with the sheriff’s department as a bailiff and has worked in that capacity for the past one and a half years.
The office of sheriff in West Virginia has two responsibilities. Its most visible duties pertain to law enforcement. According to the Pendleton County Sheriff’s Department website, the sheriff “provides patrol and investigative services,” serves all legal papers, employs bailiffs for court hearings, handles transportation for “prisoners, mental patients, and extraditions,” and issues concealed weapon licenses.
Sheriffs also operate tax collections for the county and collect fees for legal papers and home confinement fees.
The office itself dates back to medieval England under the name “shire reeve.” Unlike today where sheriffs are elected by the people, the office in those days was a royal appointment.