Terry McDiffitt Appointed Interim Marshall County Assessor

Commissioners act quickly to replace Kessler after his death

Photo by Mike Jones Ohio County Assessor Tiffany Hoffman listens to Terry McDiffitt speak after he was appointed to serve as interim assessor in Marshall County during a special meeting Wednesday afternoon.

MOUNDSVILLE — Terry McDiffitt was appointed Wednesday to serve as interim assessor in Marshall County after longtime assessor Chris Kessler’s unexpected death Tuesday morning.

The Marshall County commissioners voted unanimously to appoint McDiffitt, who has worked in the assessor’s office for the past nine years, to fill the position for the next 30 days until a permanent replacement is selected, in accordance with West Virginia law.

Kessler, 55, who served as the county assessor for 26 years, was found dead in his McMechen home shortly before 6 a.m. Tuesday. His death was ruled a suicide, McMechen police Chief Don DeWitt said Wednesday.

The commissioners convened the emergency meeting at 4:30 p.m.Wednesday to appoint an interim assessor. The assessor’s office had been closed Tuesday and Wednesday, but was expected to reopen at 8:30 a.m. today.

Commissioner John Gruzinskas said McDiffitt was a natural choice to lead the office due to his experience.

“He’s very knowledgeable of all aspects in the office,” Gruzinskas said following the brief meeting to appoint McDiffitt.

McDiffitt praised Kessler’s work as assessor and said he will be missed in the office.

“Chris was a phenomenal assessor,” McDiffitt said. “He did everything he could for the taxpayers of Marshall County to keep the tax rate low.”

McDiffitt said Kessler had told him that he planned to retire at the completion of his term, which expires at the end of 2020. He said the situation has been difficult for county employees, and he offered his condolences to Kessler’s family. Two black wreaths hung on the courthouse’s front doors to acknowledge the mourning period.

“The county has been very receptive and helpful,” McDiffitt said. “The courthouse has been very somber.”

He said he will likely seek the permanent appointment next month and run for the seat when it’s on the ballot next year.

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