Ketchem decides not to seek another term as sheriff

Health issues are main reason for not returning as sheriff

January 17, 2013
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Sheriff Richard Ketchem
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Sheriff's Captain Robin Ketchem

WAYNESBURG – Richard Ketchem, who has served as Greene County sheriff since 1990, announced Thursday he will not seek re-election this year for another term.

Ketchem, 64, said his decision was based on “health reasons.” He will, however, serve out the remainder of this term.

Prior to winning his first term in the 1989 Democratic general election, Ketchem served as a deputy sheriff for four years and was a former warden at the Greene County jail.

Ketchem said if it were not for health issues, he would have sought a seventh term. “When I leave at the end of the year, I can look back and say I have done a good job,” he said. “I have a had a very good support staff.”

He said he has taken the office from a small staff of four and has transformed it into two divisions operated by a “professional, efficient and certified staff of clerks and deputies.”

The criminal division is led by the chief deputy and is responsible for courtroom and courthouse security during high profile trials, transportation of prisoners, processing of warrants and traffic violations.

The civil division is led by the captain who is responsible for daily administrative operations of the office as well as preparing the civil complaints to be served by the deputies.

And speaking of captain, Ketchem’s wife, Robin, who is presently the sheriff’s captain, will be leaving the end of March to take a job in the civil division of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Earlier Thursday, the Greene County Salary Board accepted Robin Ketchem’s rsignation as assistant deputy sheriff, effective March 29.

Richard Ketchem said the sheriff is not a criminal investigator but a servant of the court and the people. “My goal has been to uphold the trust placed in me by the citizens, and I have always viewed my position not just as a job but as a commitment to the people of Greene County,” he said.

The sheriff said he is most proud of his commitment to community activities such as Kid Fest, Read Across America, area block watches, gun safety and drug awareness. Ketchem has presented programs to home-schooled students on Internet safety and he has assisted with the 55 Drive Alive program for senior citizens.

He is a graduate of Waynesburg Central High School and has an associate’s degree in architectural drafting from Fayette Institute of Business. He has taken business courses at University and Morgantown (W.Va.) Business College.

Ketchem said he has taken an active role at each of the county’s five school districts. “I have presented drug programs to students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade,” he said.

Ketchem is past chairman of Greene County Prison Board; a member of the state and national sheriff’s association; area chairman for the Training Board for Pennsylvania Deputy Sheriff’s Association; chairman of the prison committee of Pennsylvania Sheriff’s Association; and crime prevention officer.

He is a member of First United Methodist Church in Waynesburg and served in the U.S. Army. He has been a UMWA member since 1971; past officer and retired member of Waynesburg Volunteer Fire Department; Carmichaels Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3491; Waynesburg American Legion Post 330; a member of Moose Lodge 461; National Rifle Association; Waynesburg Sportsman Club and the Mt. Morris Sportsman Club.

Robin Ketchem, 47, ran for prothonotary in 2011, losing a general election contest to Sherry Wise.

A 26-year employee of Greene County, Ketchem began her career in 1984 in the prothonotary’s office. In 1986, she moved to the sheriff’s office and served under the late Remo Bertugli.

When Richard Ketchem was elected sheriff in 1989, he appointed Robin Ketchem as deputy sheriff in 1991. She graduated from the Deputy Sheriff’s Academy at the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle.

As a sheriff’s captain, she is responsible for the civil division, which entails managing the daily operations of the office.

She was the first certified female deputy sheriff in Greene County history.

Ketchem is in her second term as a Democratic committeewoman for Franklin Township-South, and she is vice president of Greene County Democratic Women.

She is a member of Women of the Moose Chapter 888. She also is a member of First United Methodist Church in Waynesburg.

On January 8, Bryan Tennant, a Waynesburg Borough police officer, annonunced he would seek the Democratic nomination for sheriff in the May 21 primary. The first day to circulate nominating petitions is Feb. 19

Jon Stevens was the Observer-Reporter’s Greene County bureau chief. During his 41 years with the O-R, he covered county government, courts and politics, and won statewide and regional writing awards.

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