PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — The Wood County Commission is going with a known quantity in its selection of a new county sheriff.
The commission chose Wood County 911 Director Rick Woodyard for the job after interviewing five finalists Wednesday morning.
Woodyard will replace Sheriff Steve Stephens when he retires Dec. 1.
Wood County Commission President David Blair Couch said Woodyard’s experience, which includes 44 years in the sheriff’s department as a deputy and chief deputy, is hard to beat.
“I think we leaned more to current experience and familiarity with the job,” Couch said.
Couch said he believes Woodyard can bring stability back to the office after the controversy involving Stephens who received a no confidence vote from deputies. The commission began an independent investigation to check out the claims of bad leadership and possible sexual harassment. Stephens announced his retirement before the investigation was completed.
Couch said Woodyard is well-respected. He said many deputies contacted him before Wednesday’s interview giving their support to Woodyard.
According to Couch, any of the other finalists for the job including Parkersburg Police Chief Joe Martin, former Chief Deputy Charlie Johnson, retired Wood County Deputy and current Wirt County Chief Deputy Gary “Mike” Deem and former Corrections Officer-Reserve Deputy and Bailiff Henry “Bud” Williams would have done a great job but he said Woodyard was just a better fit for the current situation.
“He can hit the ground running and cure some problems,” Couch said.
Woodyard will be the sheriff until the certification of the November 2022 election. Couch said Woodyard plans to run for the office next year.