Rick Scott appointed acting sheriff

MONTESANO — The Grays Harbor County commissioners appointed Undersheriff Rick Scott Monday morning to be acting sheriff, taking over the helm from retiring Sheriff Mike Whelan.

“With great pride and joy I accept the nomination,” Scott said.

“And we thank you for stepping up to that position because it’s an important position,” County Commission Chairwoman Terry Willis said.

Scott won’t formally be able to take over the sheriff’s title until he goes through the nominating process through the Grays Harbor Democrats, which plan to meet 7 p.m., Thursday. Because Whelan was a Democrat, the process starts with them.

The Democrats will vote on their top three favorite candidates to fill the unexpired term of Sheriff Whelan. The Democrats will then send on their nominees to the county commissioners, who will pick their favorite candidate. So far, Scott is the only candidate who has said he’ll seek the position.

It’s a pretty good bet that Scott will be appointed. All three county commissioners say they support him for the role.

Scott said he’s appointed Chief Criminal Deputy Dave Pimentel as the new undersheriff and Sgt. Steve Shumate, the investigations supervisor, will become the new chief criminal deputy. Those positions will become final once Scott assumes the sheriff position.

Because the county doesn’t conduct elections next year, Scott won’t have to stand for election until 2014.

Sheriff Whelan’s retirement was effective at midnight, Oct. 1.

“I had to tell him on the off chance I got hit by a bus, you’re not off the hook until I’m sworn in,” Scott joked.

“So is your work load going to get lighter or heavier?” Commissioner Mike Wilson asked him.

“At this point, it’s probably going to get a little heavier because I haven’t been able to redistribute the work,” Scott said.

With the shuffle of promotions and positions filled as a result of Whelan’s retirement, it will mean a vacant deputy position. Scott told the commissioners he will be asking to fill that position, but it will not be effective until Jan. 1.