FAYETTEVILLE — A lifelong Fayette County resident, Larry E. Harrah II, was sworn in Friday as the county’s new prosecuting attorney.
“I will work hard for the people of Fayette County, the county I was raised in, the county I love,” Harrah told a full house of friends, family and colleagues during the ceremony inside Judge John Hatcher Jr.’s courtroom.
He said he knows the prosecuting attorney position is not an easy one, but he is up for the challenge.
Harrah, who has been working in Fayette County courts since 2008, said one of his main goals is to work closely with law enforcement agencies to help combat the prescription drug abuse problem.
“Prescription pills are tearing through our communities and families. They leave a path of destruction that stretches all across the great state of West Virginia.”
In order to combat this problem, Harrah wants to present a unified front of law enforcement and public support to take back the community.
He commended law enforcement officers on their hard work: “I understand how difficult and how thankless your job is.”
In today’s climate, Harrah said officers are scrutinized at every turn, all while risking their lives for meager pay.
“We saw this as recently as yesterday, in nearby Lewisburg, where two officers were shot when they were just trying to do their jobs.”
He told the officers, “I also want you to know if you do what is right and just, I will support you 110 percent.”
Harrah said he comes from a large family with many members who have law enforcement backgrounds.
Another huge problem in Fayette County is child abuse and neglect, Harrah said.
“A lot of people don’t realize we have to take children all the time. It’s a routine thing.”
He plans to help educate families to prevent the need to remove children from their homes at such early ages.
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During his swearing-in ceremony Friday, Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Blake, himself a former prosecutor, extended his congratulations to Harrah.
Blake said he has known him for a long time, all the way back when he was “bird-dogging” his now-wife, Melissa, with whom he now has three children, ages 5, 2 and 1.
“I wish Larry the best, and I know he’ll do a good job.”
Blake encouraged Harrah to start each day the way he does, with a reading of the Serenity Prayer, which says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
“Abide by that and you’ll be well-served.”
Judge John Hatcher, who has also known Harrah for many years, also congratulated him on his new role.
Harrah graduated from Fayetteville High School in 1996, received his bachelor’s degree at West Virginia Tech and obtained his master’s degree at Mountain State University.
He graduated in 2008 from West Virginia University College of Law on a Saturday and was met with a job offer from Judge Hatcher the same day.
“He asked me if I could start Monday, so I started Monday.”
Hatcher joked that if Harrah can work for him as a law clerk, he can do anything.
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Harrah, who is only the sixth prosecutor in the past 50 years in Fayette County, thanked his wife, Melissa, for her tremendous support.
He also thanked the huge crowd in attendance for their overwhelming support.
“The showing of support is phenomenal. I feel very supported and I feel I have a great network of people behind me to help me make this transition and make it the best office it can possibly be.”
Brian Parsons was also sworn in Friday as chief assistant prosecuting attorney, a newly established position in Fayette County.
Harrah said Parsons has 14 years of experience in the office, and described him as “one of the best trial lawyers” he’s ever seen.
He said they will work together on strategic decisions and help supervise and guide the other assistant prosecutors.
Lastly, Harrah thanked the former prosecuting attorney, Carl Harris, for being a tremendous mentor and always offering advice and support.
“It’s bittersweet, but I’m ready to accept this challenge.”
Harris resigned last month, and Harrah will fill his seat until the 2016 general election.
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