There is a new sheriff in Hancock County, and his name is Ralph Fletcher.
With a victory in Tuesday's election over Republican Ronald Haggerty Sr., Fletcher will replace current term-limited Sheriff Mike White, who successfully chose to seek a seat as county magistrate.
Unofficial vote totals show Fletcher, a Democrat, with 7,435 votes to Haggerty's 4,240.
Fletcher, who could not be reached for comment, previously spent four years as chief of police in Weirton, capping a 25-year career on the force. He currently works as a special investigator for Hancock County Prosecutor James Davis Jr.
Fletcher will be the first sheriff to spend a significant amount of time running his department from its new home on the second floor of the county courthouse. Under White, the county completed a $460,000 project to downsize the courthouse's jail - the need for which declined significantly when the Northern Regional Jail in Moundsville opened - and relocate the sheriff's office from its former location on the ground floor near the front entrance. The move was completed last month.
And as Hancock County's chief tax collector, Fletcher may also inherit a pending lawsuit against another of his former employers - Mountaineer Casino, Racetrack and Resort, where he oversaw emergency medical response and was tasked with creating an armed guard unit. Earlier this year, White filed suit against the casino, alleging failure to collect about $600,000 in hotel occupancy tax on complimentary rooms since 2009.
Mountaineer has since moved to have the suit dismissed and claims it does not have to collect the 6-percent tax on "comped" rooms. Circuit Judge Ronald Wilson has yet to rule on the motion.