Preston County

Preston Commission appoints Jim Fields as interim sheriff

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission met in emergency session Wednesday to appoint Jim Fields as temporary successor to Sheriff Paul “Moe” Pritt, not to exceed 30 days.  

Pritt died Monday  at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital. He was running unopposed for reelection in Tuesday’s Primary Election.  

West Virginia state law requires the county commission to appoint a replacement within 30 days if the term of sheriff, prosecuting attorney, assessor or county surveyor cannot be completed. 

Commission President Don Smith said  30 days gives commissioners time  to find someone to fill  Pritt’s term through December.  

He said according to West Virginia State Code, it is up to the Republican Executive Committee to chose someone to replace Pritt on the November ballot. Smith said an Independent or a write-in candidate can also be placed on the ballot to oppose the Republican candidate, however, they have to file and pay the election fee. He said the Democrat Executive Committee didn’t have a candidate on the primary ballot so it can’t put one on the ballot for the General Election.  

Pritt, a Terra Alta resident, attended East Preston High School, and graduated from Fairmont State College in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy in 1994, according to a post on the Preston County Sheriff’s Department Facebook page.  

Pritt served as chief deputy for two terms under Sheriff Dan Loughrie, who took office Jan. 1, 2013. 

 “Moe was a private man in a public office,” Loughrie said. “He was a good friend, a good man and respected chief deputy. He always took his responsibilities seriously. As I’ve said before, he always had my back, and I mean that literally and figuratively. This has been a devastating shock. Sheriff Pritt will be sadly missed. This is a huge loss for all of Preston County. I want to extend my deepest sympathy to his family.”  

Pritt leaves behind a wife and three daughters. 

Circuit Court Judge Stephen Shaffer said he knew Pritt for about 30 years. 

 “Moe was a fantastic person,” he said. “The best way I could describe him was that he was a peacemaker, the Switzerland of the department. We had many meetings and we always worked everything out. He was a good man, a good friend and a good sheriff. I looked on him as almost a brother. My love and my prayers are with his family and the members of the sheriff’s department.”  

Kingwood Mayor Jean Guillot said Pritt was a good friend. 

“It was sad,” he said about Pritt’s passing, “He was young, and I really liked him. If we had a law enforcement issue we could always call on him. He will be missed.”  

Capt. J.G. Rodehever said he worked with Pritt for 16 years at the sheriff’s department. He said Pritt’s passing was due to complications from an illness and was both sudden and unexpected.  

“His presence and leadership will be missed by all of us,” Rodehever said.