ELIZABETHTOWN - Henry Hommes had been Essex County sheriff for 13 years when he died suddenly Friday night.
"It's odd for all of us to look out in the gallery and not see his face," Board of Supervisors Chairman Randy Douglas of Jay said at Monday's board meeting.
Douglas called him "tough and unwavering" in the performance of his duties, but also "compassionate and thoughtful" in his life, a "consummate gentleman in whatever he did" who rarely spoke about his battle with cancer.
A memorial to deceased Essex County Sheriff Henry Hommes is set up in the Essex County Board of Supervisors’ board room Monday morning.
(Enterprise photo — Nathan Brown)
County Clerk Joe Provoncha led the room in a prayer for Hommes, and Douglas ordered all flags at county buildings and in the county's towns to be flown at half-staff.
Douglas said after the meeting that he first met Hommes when he helped on Hommes' campaign during his first run for sheriff in 1997. Douglas is a Democrat and Hommes was a Republican, but the county's Democratic Party had endorsed Hommes that year.
St. Armand Supervisor Joyce Morency said she first became close friends with Hommes when she was his campaign manager during his first run for sheriff.
"I've known him since then," Morency said. "We've been very close friends. (He's) a dear friend of mine. It's hard to accept he's gone."
County Attorney Dan Manning said he had known Hommes since the early 1990s, when he was assistant district attorney and Hommes was a state police investigator. In particular, Manning remembered a case he was prosecuting involving the transfer of solid waste out of the county, on which Hommes "did a phenomenal job" investigating.
The charges didn't stick, Manning said, but that had nothing to do with Hommes' investigation. A law similar to Essex County's law ended up being declared unconstitutional around the same time.
"He was an incredibly good sheriff," Manning said.
County Manager Dan Palmer said he had known Hommes when he was undersheriff, before he became sheriff. Palmer was Minerva town supervisor at the time.
"He's been a good friend," Palmer said.
Sue Montgomery-Corey, Minerva's current supervisor, said she didn't know Hommes that well, but she did know and had worked with him. She said he was "a very kind, thoughtful guy, and he worked hard to make sure the sheriff's department was run in a professional manner."
Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava was on the Board of Supervisors when Hommes was first elected but said he knew him for years before that.
"We go back a long way," Scozzafava said. "He was the definition of public servant."
Scozzafava said they had their disagreements but that Hommes was dedicated to the people of the county. His tenure saw some major changes, Scozzafava said, most notably the construction of a new public-safety building in Lewis to replace the old 20-bed county jail.
"It's going to leave a tremendous void for the people of this county," Scozzafava said of his passing.
Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.