WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Putnam County commissioners made an exception to the county's anti-nepotism policy Tuesday, to allow the daughter of a sheriff's deputy to be hired as a deputy.
Sheriff Steve Deweese told commissioners that Heather Valiquette was at the top of a list of recommendations from the Civil Service Commission, which evaluates potential employees based on numerous tests.
"You can't penalize the most qualified simply because of her father," Deweese said. "It's not based on who you know, but how a person scored."
Putnam County's anti-nepotism policy was updated about 10 years ago to allow the hiring of relatives -- just not in the same office.
"The sheriff can hire a deputy's wife to work in the tax office if her husband works in law enforcement," Jennifer Scragg Karr, the county attorney, said as an example.
Karr noted the policy is meant to prevent special treatment and said commissioners could revise the policy or make an exception for Valiquette.
Commissioner Steve Andes asked Deweese if Valiquette's father would be supervising her or what would happen if her father, Lt. Robert Harrison, one day became sheriff.
Karr said it wouldn't matter and pointed out that people who worked together and then married didn't get fired for it.
Deweese said he would move Harrison, a 31-year deputy with the road patrol, to staff service -- even though Harrison had asked to stay on road patrol since he plans to retire in about a year.
"I feel like I have to," Deweese said.