Lifetime of service
WAYNE — Since 1974, David Pennington has faithfully served the citizens of both Wayne and Cabell counties. After 30 years served as a sheriff’s deputy in Cabell County, eight in the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, and the past half-dozen years on the Wayne County Commission, the 74-year-old is turning in his keys after over four decades of serving the public.
“I want to thank the people of Wayne County for allowing me to serve them for the past 14 years,” Pennington said. “I’ve had a great time here and the people in the courthouse have been magnificent through some of the hard times we’ve had.”
When he made the jump to Wayne County, Pennington left his position as lieutenant in Cabell County where he was able to accomplish a number of things after spending three decades with the department, including opening the Ona-based Cabell County Sheriff’s Field Office in 1996.
“When I was with Cabell County, my office was in the basement of the courthouse before they transferred us up to Ona. We got a sub-office up there that I helped open and we took investigations up there, and we also opened another office near Salt Rock to help make it easier for people in the surrounding area to pay their taxes.”
After leaving Cabell County, Pennington said transitioning to the Wayne Sheriff’s Department was simple. He entered with a small set of goals he wanted to work toward achieving.
“I came to the (Wayne) Sheriff’s Department and loved it. I knew what I was doing and I set my goal and we accomplished every one of them. I think I did very well during my time there.”
His to-do list as sheriff included pay raises for deputies, zoning the county to generate quicker response times, open sub-offices in the southern and northern ends of the county as he did in Cabell, an establish drug education programs in the local schools.
Pennington ran for a seat on the Wayne County Commission in 2012 after retiring from the sheriff’s department and won in the general election joining current commissioners Robert Pasley and Kenneth Adkins. Pennington said he entered his term with no agenda and to what was best for the people of Wayne County.
Much as he did when taking over as sheriff, Pennington entered with a small list of goals for his term as commissioner: establish an ambulance levy to give the entire county access to reliable ambulance service, and to give pay raises to employees within the Wayne County Courthouse. Looking back on his time,
Pennington was bothered by the fact that the commissioners were unsuccessful in accomplishing either.
Money in the county has been tight in recent years, and continues to decrease with each passing year. Despite the hardships, Pennington said for better or for worse, the commission has always had public interest at the forefront
“It’s easy being a county commissioner when you’ve got a lot of money; it’s hard when you don’t have (money) and have to start taking away on insurances and not giving pay raises,” Pennington said.
“The employees here have been fantastic to work with because they understand what our county is going through.”
It wasn’t all failure, however. During Pennington’s six-year term, the commission was able to extend waterlines to previously unreached areas of the county.
They also secured funds to build an annex building across from the main courthouse to hold family court and other official business.
When his last County Commission meeting had been adjourned on Christmas Eve, Pennington said though he’s not ready to call it quits, he knows it is time.
“I’m 74 years old and I don’t feel like it because I’ve got a lot of energy, but I’m still 74.1 thought about running again this year, but I would have been 80 and I don’t need to be out here at that age when I’ve got three grandbabies at home that I can cherish and do things for,” Pennington said.
Pennington watched as his successor, Jeff Maddox, was sworn in after defeating E. Jay Marcum in the November general election.
He said he experienced a brief moment of regret, asking himself why he wasn’t up there getting ready to enter a second term, but those emotions passed as he began to turn his attention to retirement.
In addition to spending more time with his three grandchildren and his wife, Pennington isn’t leaving the public eye entirely after being nominated to serve on the Deputy Sheriff Civil Service Board, where he will oversee new applicants and administer exams to those looking to enter the force.
“I’ve been doing this for 44 years, and even though I don’t want to go, I know it’s time. It is going to feel funny to get up and have no responsibility whatsoever,” Pennington said, “though they’ve already appointed me to the Deputy Sheriff Civil Service board,” Pennington said behind a slight smirk and a chuckle.