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Commissioners OK hiring new assistant prosecutors

November 10, 2018 GMT

HUNTINGTON — Cabell County commissioners on Thursday allowed the prosecutor to hire two new assistant prosecuting attorneys under the condition that one of them will become part time upon turning 27 years old.

Prosecuting Attorney Sean “Corky” Hammers asked commissioners’ permission to hire Chelsea Bailey and Courtney Cremeans as full-time assistant prosecuting attorneys during a commission meeting last month. Commissioners tabled Hammers’ request to learn more about where the money would come from, particularly in regard to health insurance and retirement benefits.

During a meeting Thursday, Hammers said Bailey will take the place of Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Margaret Brown, whose last day is Nov. 30. Bailey will be paid less than what Brown was making and there is money in the budget to support her benefits package, he said.

Cremeans will be a new hire, but she will not require health insurance benefits because she is 26 years old and will remain on her parents’ health insurance plan until her June 2019 birthday. Money may be moved around his department to supplement Cremeans’ salary, Hammers said.

Commissioner Nancy Cartmill questioned whether she would support hiring someone if the money for benefits was not immediately available in the budget.

Commissioners recently gave Hammers approval to hire a support staff member, but he feels hiring an extra assistant prosecuting attorney is more important to help with the caseload.

“We gave you the money to hire somebody for benefits not long ago. We just don’t have more money,” Cartmill said. “If you have all the money in your budget, I have no problem with you hiring whoever you want.”

Hammers said if commissioners didn’t grant him permission to hire Cremeans, he would be unable to use the money previously allocated for a new position.

“This is the way I want to spend that money. This is the best way,” Hammers said. “It serves the people of Cabell County to get more people in office to prosecute because we have a growing number (of cases).”

County Attorney William Watson asked Hammers if he would state on record that Cremeans’ position will become part time, not requiring benefits, once she turns 27 next year.

“If the funds aren’t there, we would have no option than to tell her that her position has been reduced to part time,” Hammers said.

Commissioner Jim Morgan agreed with Cartmill and permitted Hammers’ request on a stated condition that the commission is unable to provide extra money for new hires. Commission President Bob Bailey, who on Tuesday lost his bid for re-election to a fifth term on the commission, was absent from the meeting.

“Coming here today I know you are not going to give me any more money,” Hammers said. “I realize that.”

Also during Thursday’s meeting, commissioners agreed to move forward a proposal from the Pea Ridge Service District, a sewer utility. The proposal will add 714 homes and 45 businesses to the utility along W.Va. 2 and the Ben Bowen Highway, also known as W.Va. 193.

The proposal will now go before the West Virginia Public Service Commission for final approval and establishment of rates. The project will most likely get underway by March 2019.

Travis Crum is a reporter for the Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.