By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — An ad hoc committee formed to search for a new Essex County coroner has picked a retired state trooper for the job.
Francis W. Whitelaw, 51, of Bloomingdale, in the Town of St. Armand, is expected to be sworn in this morning after the full Essex County Board of Supervisors votes on his appointment.
He will replace W. Robert Huestis of Willsboro, who died in October.
The county has three other coroners: Walter “Smitty” Marvin III of Elizabethtown, Kelli Valentine of Moriah and Paul Connery of Ticonderoga.
County Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) appointed a special committee to review applications for coroner and make a recommendation to the board.
Because of his expertise, Supervisor David Blades (R-Lewis), a retired State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation investigator, chaired the committee. Other members were Supervisors Sue Montgomery Corey (D-Minerva), Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) and Ronald Moore (R-North Hudson) and County Personnel Officer Monica Feeley.
“The committee interviewed three very excellent candidates,” Blades said. “It was the consensus — and in fact it was unanimous — that Francis Whitelaw would receive our endorsement. What I would like to do is bring him before the regular board meeting in December to be sworn in.”
He said Whitelaw, who will cover the northwestern end of the county, can then start work the next day.
Blades praised Whitelaw as the best choice for the post.
“He had a lot of experience doing forensic work in the State Police. He stood out. He shined a little bit more (than the other candidates).”
The county had solicited letters of interest for the post and received five, interviewing three of those believed to be the best. Coroners are part-time county officials who receive about $3,905 a year.
Whitelaw, who retired from State Police in January 2012, was commended by the force in 2010 for his actions in preventing a serious motor-vehicle accident in Saranac Lake.
While on patrol on Dec. 21, 2010, he observed a car out of control with a woman slumped over the wheel. He steered his vehicle into the its path and collided with and stopped the car. Whitelaw then performed CPR and used a defibrillator on the driver, who later died at Adirondack Medical Center from a brain aneurysm.
“We were impressed with Mr. Whitelaw, his understanding of the position and his commitment to doing it,” Montgomery Corey said.
Whitelaw owns Smokey’s BBQ 911 in Bloomingdale.
If approved, he will serve until Dec. 31, 2013, and the post will be on the November 2013 general election ballot.
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