remembering Ken Merritt - Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair

REMEMBERING WOOD COUNTY SHERIFF KEN MERRITT

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Kenneth Dalton Merritt 81, former Sheriff of Wood County, of Waverly, WV passed away Tuesday, March 21, 2017 surrounded by his loving family at the Carehaven of Pleasants County, Belmont, WV.

He was born July 4, 1935 in Purgitsville, WV, a son of the late George A. and Alma S. Wilkins Merritt. Ken attended Hampshire County schools and WVU of Parkersburg. He was a proud Korean War Veteran of the US Navy, where he served on the U.S.S. Boxer Air Craft Carrier. Ken was a life member of the NRA, the National Wild Turkey Federation, Fraternal Order of Police, the Marine Corp. League, was past president of the West Virginia Sheriff's Association, and was a member of the Union Valley Baptist Church. He had owned and operated a service station in Romney, WV, and had worked at Allegany Ballistics, and Kaiser Aluminum in Ravenswood, WV, before starting his career as a public servant.

 

Ken & Gerald Merritt Picture Courtesy Carol Wilkins Hurd

 

Ken Merritt joined the Navy at the age of 17 and came back to West Virginia to begin his career. he started with the DNR and after many years retired and was elected Wood County sheriff 4 times.

 

Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt and the Chief Deputy Shawn Graham sharing a "cold one" at the Root Beer Shack before going out on duty. Picture Courtesy Shawn Graham

 

Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt

 

Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt

 

Ken Merritt 1957 Picture Courtesy Carol Wilkins Hurd

 

 

WCDSA President Terry Miller and Sheriff Kenneth D. Merritt stand in front of the Veteran's Memorial Monument in Parkersburg City Park. Both men attended the Veteran's Memorial Service held there on November 11. There were approximately 500 people in attendance at the service. Miller was there representing the WVDSA Honor Guard. 1992

 

 

Ken Merritt celebrated for 54 years of service

 

Williamstown -- After more than five decades in law enforcement, former Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt said goodbye surrounded by well-wishers. In a reception Thursday at the Woman’s Club in Williamstown, Merritt spoke about his law enforcement career with what is now known as the Division of Natural Resources after serving in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict.

I’ve had ups and downs, Buffalo Creek and other crisis,” he said. At the time of the Buffalo Creek disaster in February 1972, Merritt was assigned to the Logan County area and was the first law enforcement officer on the scene. At Buffalo Creek, communities were destroyed after the Pittston Coal Company’s coal slurry impoundment dam No. 3 burst four days after having been declared satisfactory by a federal mine inspector.

Merritt said his wife, a native of Boone County, is working on a diary about his career and she is putting an emphasis on Buffalo Creek. That was probably the saddest point in my whole career, he said. At that time I had been with the DNR for about five months.”

Merritt, a native of Purgitsville in Hampshire County, joined the Navy at the age of 17 and came back to West Virginia to begin his career. After the DNR Merritt served two terms as Wood County sheriff, then one term as a county commissioner and then two nonconsecutive terms as sheriff. His second nonconsecutive term ended on Dec. 31 2017.

During his tenure Merritt said there were a number of changes he brought to the Wood County Sheriff’s Department. “In my mind the biggest thing we did was to improve communication with the people in the county,” he said.

Merritt’s wife of 44 years, Linda Merritt, said his retirement is opening up a new chapter in their lives, saying she was not used to having him at home all the time, but she is proud of his work as sheriff. In one way it is a relief for him to be finished with it,” she said. “I am so proud of him and everything he has done; he came off a farm on a hillside to become sheriff of Wood County. We made so many wonderful friends here; this is not where we were born but this is home.”

Linda Merritt said she did not know about the celebration organized by Dr. Steven Eddy until two days before.  Bob Tranquill, who served as chief tax deputy during Merritt’s terms as sheriff, said Merritt was the best person he ever worked for.

When he was elected in 1992 I knew a little bit about taxes and I told him he needed to get someone in there who knew a lot more about taxes,” he said. “He said he wanted someone with a great personality who is going to make this a happy place to work and want to come to work; that’s why he hired me.”

Tranquill said he worked with Merritt at the DNR for several years. Tranquill said one big change was Merritt automated the tax office. When he came here it was all done on paper by hand,” he said. “That was a big thing; we went from paper to computers in the tax office.”

Tranquill said in his 16 years as the chief tax deputy Merritt told him to change only two things. Otherwise, he said, he was free to run the tax office with little interference.

 

 

 

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