ELIZABETHTOWN - The sudden loss of Essex County's Sheriff to cancer had officials honoring his service to the community this week and wondering how his position will now be filled.
Sheriff Henry Hommes died July 30, at his home in Willsboro, surrounded by friends and family.
Hommes just won re-election last year after serving 12 years as Essex County Sheriff. Despite his history of cancer, his death came suddenly and was a surprise to family and co-workers.
The Essex County Board of Supervisors dedicated their invocation to Hommes at their meeting Aug. 2, and displayed a memorial with his photograph.
"He was an impeccably good sheriff," said County Attorney Dan Manning, who had worked with Hommes as an Assistant District Attorney in 1993. "He was tough and unwavering when he needed to be, but treated everybody fairly."
Hommes' death means Undersherrif Richard Cutting will assume the duties of sheriff until someone is either appointed or elected to the position.
As Manning explained, Gov. David A. Paterson has the power to appoint a new county sheriff "with the advice and consent of the Senate, if in session."
In that case, the appointee would fill the position until Dec. 31, when an elected candidate would take over.
"Personally, I don't think the governor is likely to appoint because of the way things are going," Manning said.
The position could also remain vacant until a Nov. 2 election, in which case, the chosen candidate would assume the position immediately.
With the deadline for filing primary petitions passed, each party will choose their candidate for the position by committee. Independent candidates have about 10 to 15 days left to file their petitions for the race.