Wolfe takes over as sheriff as Reiner starts 'new chapter'
SUNBURY - Northumberland County's acting sheriff is ready to hit the ground running.
Former deputy Robert J. Wolfe, sworn into office at noon Friday in Courtroom 2 at the courthouse by President JudgeWilliam H. Wiest, said he was feeling excited and a bit overwhelmed.
"This is the one of the greatest honors of my life, and I will strive to do the best for the citizens of Northumberland County," he said moments after the brief ceremony.
Following the swearing in, outgoing Sheriff Chad Reiner, who resigned amid the county's salary cuts dispute, presented Wolfe with the sheriff's badge, then embraced him.
"He's the best person to step in as sheriff," Reiner said.
Wolfe will need the blessing of Gov. Tom Corbett, who will take recommendations on a nominee for sheriff over the next 90 days, and then majority approval by the state Senate.
Wolfe is a 20-year veteran of the Shamokin police department, where he reached the rank of corporal before retiring in April 2009. Since that time, he has worked in the sheriff's office and as a part-time policeman in several communities.
Reiner made Wolfe, formerly a corporal, the chief deputy Jan. 8, replacing Randy Coe. The change was made with political affiliation in mind because Wolfe, like Reiner, is a Democrat while Coe is a Republican.
Wolfe stood with his wife, Patty, and 3-month-old grandson Leon Herb while Wiest asked him to raise his right hand and swear to uphold the duties of the office. Also present were his two daughters, his mother-in-law, a stepson and his fiance, a brother and his wife and his daughter's boyfriend.
Wolfe's insight and ideas on how to improve make him the man for the job, and the deputies stand behind him, Coe said.
"He will be a sheriff of outreach for the community and he understands the needs of the office," he said.
Wolfe said he wants to organize educational programs with children, streamline the warrant system and look into establishing night shifts.
He said he would be available 24 hours a day and that his office would be transparent.
Pay 'is what it is'
Reiner handed in his resignation letter Jan. 8, citing the commissioners' controversial decision last year to cut his and other row officers' salaries by 42 to 48 percent. Reiner said if the pay cuts withstand a court challenge, combined with county-mandated increases in health care insurance costs and his retirement contribution, he would have been reduced to $15,900 a year before taxes when the new rate took effect Jan. 1, 2016.
That's what Wolfe's salary will be at that point, if he runs and is elected in 2015. For now the salary stays at $53,834.
Wolfe said he's humbled to take the position no matter the pay.
"It is what it is," he said.
Reiner 'turning page'
Reiner will start his new position in law enforcement Monday, but would not reveal where he is headed.
"I'm honored to have worked here. This is a new chapter in my life and I'm turning the page," he said.
Reiner, 36, served as chief deputy for four years under Sheriff Charles Berkoski, who passed away in office in May 2004. Reiner was appointed to the post by then-Gov. Ed Rendell. He won election to a two-year term in 2005 and was elected again in 2007 and 2011.
Wolfe said he will miss Reiner, and wished him the best in his new career.
"He was my mentor and I hope I can do half as good a job as he did," he said. "I hope to continue what Sheriff Reiner started."