Press-Republican

Local News

October 9, 2011

Essex County coroners on hot seat

▶ Elected officials questioned about limited availability

ELIZABETHTOWN — Essex County lawmakers want to meet with county's four coroners to find out why most don't seem to be available.

Supervisor Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said a Franklin County coroner must often be called to unattended or suspicious deaths in the northern end of Essex County because no local coroner responds.

"None of our coroners are available. We can't do anything until 15 months prior to another election; we can then start to move to eliminate those positions.

"The problem isn't going to go away. We have no coverage in the Lake Placid or St. Armand area."

CAN'T CHANGE LAW NOW

The county's four elected coroners are Walter Marvin III of Elizabethtown, Kellie Valentine of Moriah, Paul Connery of Ticonderoga and W. Robert Huestis of Willsboro. Any coroner has authority in any town in the county.

But Politi said it's Marvin who gets most of the calls when the others are not available to cover their geographic areas.

"It's not fair to the coroner in the Elizabethtown area (Marvin)," Politi said.

If the Board of Supervisors wants to make changes, under state law, it has to wait, County Manager Daniel Palmer said.

"If you want to change from elected officials (to appointed) or change the number of elected officials, you have to start no less than 15 months from the election."

Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah) said he spoke with Connery, who said police are not calling him to unattended deaths in his area.

"It is my understanding that they are not getting called when there is a death, and that needs to be investigated. Who are they calling?" Scozzafava said. "We need to make sure they (coroners) are getting called before we go throwing them under the bus."

WILL ASK FOR MEETING

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