PARKERSBURG - When one door closes, another opens.
Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy lost the general election Tuesday to former sheriff Ken Merritt, then an old friend called Thursday afternoon and offered the lame-duck lawman a job.
"He said 'You're hired,'" Sandy said Friday morning.
Merritt, a Republican, defeated Sandy by fewer than 500 votes, 16,569 to 16,091.
The new job, which he will take in January after the end of the term, will be in the terrorism field, Sandy said. It will parallel his previous employment, he said.
"I'm very blessed," Sandy said.
The call came about 6:30 p.m. Thursday while moving boxes of personal items out of the sheriff's office, Sandy said. Sandy said he almost didn't answer his cellphone because he was carrying a box.
He answered the phone and it was from an old friend he worked with in Iraq. The friend said he heard Merritt won the election and then offered Sandy a job, Sandy said.
"I couldn't believe it," he said.
Sandy will remain sheriff until the term ends on Dec. 31. Because of the nature of the job, Sandy wouldn't disclose the particulars of the new job, except that it will involve being overseas and in the states.
"I'm not at liberty to say, and I may not be able to" afterward, Sandy said.
Sandy was elected sheriff in 2008, having defeated Merritt, a former county commissioner and incumbent sheriff.
He was a special agent from 1993-1998 for the Southern Judicial District of West Virginia and with the state of West Virginia from 1998 to 2001. He volunteered to work in Iraq in 2003 and received the Honor Award from the secretary of treasury and the Department of Defense Joint Services Achievement Medal.
Sandy Thursday posted the circumstances of the job offer on his Facebook site.
He talked about being sleepless for the past 48 hours, having visitors in the office crying and speaking with County Commissioner Wayne Dunn "and I almost lost it." Other friends and employees also called, Sandy said.
He took his wife to dinner and afterward returned to the office.
"Just when I picked up the first box, my cellphone rang. I almost did not answer because I had a heavy box, but I did. I had not talked to the caller in years. He said I heard you lost the election, which I acknowledged," Sandy wrote on his Facebook site. "His next words were you're hired and within five minutes I received the contract to sign via email. What a day God had planned for me."