WHEELING - Ohio County Commissioners Tim McCormick and Randy Wharton have a new cohort - at least for the next six months.
The duo on Tuesday named Wheeling resident John R. Clarke as David Sims' replacement on the commission. Sims has been chosen to fill retired Circuit Judge Arthur Recht's seat on the bench for the remainder of Recht's term that ends in late 2014. Sims resigned his commission seat during the meeting and will be sworn in as a judge Friday.
Clarke was among 10 applicants for the position. He, unlike five of those applicants, met the criteria set by the commissioners. Clarke is a Democrat who resides in the 2nd Magisterial District. He has never run for public office, and he said he does not want to run for Sims' seat in November.
''I had come back from a business trip in Colorado and read in the paper what the commissioners said. I read what they were looking for and I thought to myself, 'I fit the bill,''' Clarke said after the meeting.
Clarke said he was impressed with Wharton and McCormick's decision to take applications for the seat.
''It would have been easy for them to put a relative in ..." he said, adding the commissioners also could have chosen whoever the Democratic Party wanted to run in the election against Republican challenger Patty Levenson.
Clarke currently serves on the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce board, the Greater Wheeling Coalition for the Homeless board and the Wheeling Planning Commission. He also is business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 141. Clarke noted he once served on the Downtown Development Committee when Nick Sparachane was mayor.
''I have never looked to run for anything. It seems these appointments seek me out. I try to contribute when I can,'' Clarke said.
McCormick said Clarke has ''good contacts in Charleston, and his reputation is impeccable.''
''I think he can sit down and be up to speed very quickly,'' Wharton added.
Only one of the applicants, Wheeling resident Geneva Barrax, attended the meeting to learn who would be picked to replace Sims.
During the meeting, Sims was presented a plaque in recognition of his ''outstanding vision, dedication and commitment to excellence as an Ohio County commissioner.'' He also was given a commemorative clock engraved with his name and years of service - 1995-2012.
''It won't be the same without you - hopefully it will be better,'' Wharton quipped.
In other business, the commission approved hotel-motel tax fund money requests: $7,500 for the City of Lights and Christmas parade; $2,000 for a 4-H trailer; $2,000 for Celebrate Youth 2002; and $2,500 for the Cancer Research Classic.
The commission also approved a resolution to participate in a retirement plan for its employees that will be administered by the state treasurer's office. If they opt to participate, the money would be payroll deducted.
They also heard from Charles Clements of the I-68 Authority, who asked the commission to choose two county residents to serve on the authority's board.
And they heard from county resident William Adams, who asked for help regarding issues with the city of Wheeling related to two pieces of property he once owned within city limits between 1998 and 1999, in addition to a landfill he once operated. Adams was informed by county Solicitor Donald Tennant that since his issues were not related to matters under the commission's control, there was nothing the commission could do for him. To pursue legal action against the city of Wheeling, he said, most lawyers likely would not take him as a client until he could show he had money, possibly $20,000, up front to cover the cost of retainer fee.
The commission will next meet at 6 p.m. July 18 in Room 215 of the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., Wheeling.