Chester judge change in works

CHESTER – Longtime Chester City Court Judge Curtis Parkins may not survive the Larry Forsythe administration.

Parkins said Forsythe, who will assume office as mayor on Monday after being elected on June 10, has asked him to step down as city court judge.

“He told me he was going to replace me,” Parkins said.

Other leadership changes may be in the offing, but Forsythe said he’s not prepared to talk about them until his first Chester City Council meeting as mayor on July 7.

“Any changes that will happen, I’ll make my nomination and council has to vote,” Forsythe said. “I can’t say anything official until then.”

Parkins said the discussion with the incoming mayor took place following Thursday’s session of city court, which handles mostly misdemeanors and traffic violations.

Parkins has been city court judge since 1997, when he was appointed by then-Mayor Roy Cashdollar. Municipal judges in West Virginia serve at the pleasure of the mayor, he said.

“I’ve enjoyed doing it,” he said.

Parkins also is the owner of The Gun Room, a sporting goods store in downtown Chester, and previously served as a deputy and sergeant with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department. The store, 443 Carolina Ave., currently is have a going-out-of-business sale.

In 2012, Parkins, a New Cumberland resident, ran for the office of Hancock County magistrate. He lost in the May primary in a four-way race on the Democratic ticket.

Parkins said he’s keeping his options open and may pursue other judge opportunities in Hancock County in the future.

Forsythe, 66, a Weirton Steel retiree, said he’s spent the last few weeks learning about the city and its operations.

“We have so many issues in this town,” he said. “I’ve been going around, talking to different (department) heads and trying to get more knowledge about what we’re going to have to work on.”

Forsythe added: “There’s only so much a mayor can do. The mayor is just a manager.”

Forsythe, along with other city elected officials, will take the oath of office at a ceremony at Chester Municipal Building at 6 p.m. Monday.

Also being sworn in are new City Clerk Elaine Hyatt, new City Councilmen Ed Beaumont and Bradley Anderson, and re-elected incumbents John “Woody” Woodruff, Mike Dotson and Steve Shuman.

Forsythe defeated longtime Mayor Ken Morris 209 to 153.

(Huba can be contacted at shuba@reviewonline.com)