New Sheriff Takes Over After Previous Official Retires

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — There's a new sheriff in a West Virginia town where the previous one retired amid allegations of inappropriate behavior and a hostile work environment.

Rick Woodyard was sworn in Wednesday as the new Wood County Sheriff with numerous county officials, deputies and other supporters in attendance, The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported. Woodyard, who is also is 911 director, said he was “flattered” by the show of support and has an administrative plan to move forward.

He succeeds Steve Stephens, who announced his retirement last month after a Charleston law firm started investigating to determine whether the allegations warranted removal proceedings, according to the newspaper. The investigation was suspended after the sheriff agreed to resign.

Woodyard said he has different areas he wants to focus on as sheriff including building relationships with his officers and reducing the amount of drugs coming into the community.

A special election will be held in 2022 to fill the rest of the unexpired sheriff's term and Woodyard said he is planning to run.