WELLSBURG - A changing of the guard of sorts occurred Wednesday as Brooke County's new sheriff and prosecuting attorney were administered oaths of office at the county courthouse.
The oaths were administered by 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge James Mazzone, who said Chuck Jackson and Joseph Barki III have big shoes to fill as they step into positions held previously by Richard Ferguson and David B. Cross.
Ferguson recently completed two four-year terms as sheriff and under state law, couldn't seek another term. Cross decided to step down from the prosecutor's position after serving it for 30 years.
NEW SHERIFF — As Brooke County’s new sheriff, Chuck Jackson was administered the oath of office Wednesday by 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge James Mazzone. Jackson served previously as chief sheriff’s deputy under Sheriff Richard Ferguson. -- Warren Scott
NEW PROSECUTOR — As Brooke County’s new prosecuting attorney, Joseph Barki III was administered the oath of office Wednesday by 1st Judicial Circuit Court Judge James Mazzone. Barki served previously as assistant prosecutor under County Prosecutor David B. Cross. -- Warren Scott
But Mazzone added he has confidence in the two, who were elected to their respective positions in November.
Barki expressed thanks to his supporters and to Cross, who he said was a mentor while he served under him as assistant prosecutor over the last eight years.
Barki said current assistant prosecutors David F. Cross, who is Cross' son; and Bill Cipriani will continue with him while he seeks to add at least one other assistant prosecutor.
Barki is the county's first official full-time prosecutor, a move he said reflects the number of hours Cross had put in, and will receive a higher salary set by state code. But he said that and pay for any additional assistant prosecutors will remain within the budget set by the county commission last year.
He said the additional manpower is needed to address a trend of more violent crimes seen in Brooke County and the Ohio Valley in general.
Barki had served as the prosecutor for the Weirton-Brooke-Hancock Drug Task Force and said he will continue to focus on drug-related crimes as county prosecutor.
Asked about his own efforts to address drug-related crimes, Jackson said, "We're back on track with a full-time officer on the drug task force. We think that's a very important endeavor."
Jackson said he also will serve in a full-time capacity.
A former West Virginia State Police commander with more than 30 years in law enforcement, Jackson said he considers himself a policeman, not a politician, and made few promises while seeking office.
But Jackson said he will make good on a promise to run a professional law enforcement agency, which he said will be made easy by the dedicated staff in place.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)