State troopers are sometimes hard to find in West Virginia.
Because of small staffs, there are not enough troopers in most detachments to patrol 24 hours a day.
"People don't realize just how few of us there are," said Sgt. G.L. Menendez, Weston detachment commander.
But starting next week, his detachment and others in the area will get some help.
Today, 41 cadets are scheduled to graduate from the West Virginia State Police Academy in South Charleston. Several will be added to detachments in North Central West Virginia.
"This will up our staff to six troopers," Menendez said. "That's a lot more than we've had in the past."
In the 1970s and early 1980s, the detachment might have had more troopers, but the numbers declined over the years, he said.
But as the number of officers went down, the need for more of them increased, Menendez said.
"The interstate is one reason we're getting another one," he said.
"We have a lot of misdemeanor crime committed by people driving through the area."
And the popularity of Stonewall Jackson Lake has increased the need, too, he said.
Those are two of the reasons he listed when he requested the additional trooper, Menendez said.
Former Clarksburg police officer John Wayne Smith will be the post's new trooper.
Meanwhile, Edward L. Loughridge, Matthew L. Shannon and Philip D. Wright will join the Bridgeport detachment.
That post now has nine troopers, three sergeants and one first sergeant, plus three interstate patrols.
Another former Clarksburg officer, Timothy Menendez, will join the Buckhannon detachment.
Fifty cadets began the class that started Jan. 10, 2000, according to state police headquarters information. The 41 who completed the training have 1,420 hours of classroom and practical training, and an associate degree in criminal justice from Marshall University.
But their training is not yet complete, Menendez said. For the first couple of months they are in the field, new troopers are accompanied by an experienced officer, he said.
After that phase is complete, new troopers can patrol on their own.
But they remain on probation for a year. During that time, their training officers still help them by answering questions, checking paper work and completing probationary reports.
At the end of the year, the training officer will recommend retaining or releasing the new trooper.
As welcome as the new troopers are, the Weston detachment still could use more, Menendez said.
"We'd still like to have another," he said.
Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404.