WELLSBORO - Tioga County District Attorney George Wheeler will be sworn in as the county's court of commons pleas president judge Friday, filling the vacancy left by Judge Robert E. Dalton Jr., who retired from full-time work early this year.
Dalton has been serving in a reduced capacity since January and judges from other counties have helped share the load. He held the position in the one-judge county since 1992.
Wheeler, 43, was confirmed by the Pennsylvania Senate last week following a nomination by Gov. Tom Corbett.
Wheeler was elected as the county's district attorney in 2008 and re-elected in 2012. He said he is excited to begin his new job.
"I'm looking forward to the opportunity to bring stability to our court system and to expand my interest in the law of other areas," he said.
Though he always considered the possibility of becoming a judge, Wheeler said he never set a direct career path for himself.
"I do enjoy the work as DA, but this is an opportunity to do something else," he said. "Both offices are important but, as judge, you have responsibilities in civil cases, including family services cases as well as the criminal cases. Serving as judge will give me the opportunity to use the legal knowledge and experience I've accumulated in working in a variety of legal areas."
State Sen. Joseph B. Scarnati III, R-Brockway, said Wheeler's "extensive background in public service and dedication to upholding the law will be an asset to the community."
Wheeler, a native of Tioga County, received his undergraduate degree from West Virginia University and later received his law degree from that school in 1997 before he landed a position in the county's district attorney's office in early 1998.
Wheeler said Assistant District Attorney Krista Deats will take over for him as district attorney after he is sworn in.