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Coroner resigns after just one day on the job

LOCKPORT - Jacqueline E. DeCarlo resigned as Niagara County coroner one day after being appointed by the County Legislature.

Legislator William J. Collins, who chaired the search committee, said Friday the next coroner is likely to be Calvin W. Rhoney, who worked 29 years at the Sheriff's Office and also is a former town supervisor and councilman in Royalton.

"He and Jackie were basically neck-and-neck. It was a tossup," Collins, R-Lockport, said of the search committee's choice. He said a special Legislature meeting might be called to confirm Rhoney. The next regularly scheduled meeting is Dec. 6.

DeCarlo, who was appointed Tuesday, never went on a death call as coroner before she decided that the time demands on her were too great for her to become the successor to Kenneth V. Lederhouse. Lederhouse resigned from the District 3 coroner post Oct. 31 after 31 years in office.

DeCarlo has a full-time job as a nurse at the County Jail, working for PrimeCare Medical, the private company providing health care to inmates.

Collins said all the applicants for the position who have jobs were required to submit letters from their employers certifying that they would be allowed to go on calls during the work day.

"Her employer thought it was more like a half-hour or 20 minutes," Collins said. He said DeCarlo was surprised to learn how long a death call might take.

After her appointment Tuesday by the Legislature as District 3 coroner, she had a conversation with Coroner Michael A. Ross, who handles District 4. She said Ross told her about a recent suicide he handled in which he spent an hour talking to the family and then waited 2 1/2 hours for a funeral home to send someone to remove the body.

"I could be up half the night and have to work the next day," DeCarlo said.

DeCarlo wrote a letter of resignation on Wednesday. It was filed at the County Clerk's Office just before the close of business Thursday, with a notation that DeCarlo never had taken the oath of office. Her resignation letter said, "The position of coroner is something that I have wanted to do for quite some time and (I) was thrilled to hear that Ken Lederhouse was retiring. ... I accepted the position without knowing the true time commitment."

"I feel sad and embarrassed," DeCarlo said Friday. "I feel bad that I didn't talk to someone about it sooner."

The salary is $17,500 a year for a job that Ross said "is basically 365 days a year, 24 hours a day."

Collins said Rhoney, as a retiree, would have maximum availability. "He told me the only person he had to report to was his wife," Collins said.

"It's a full-time part-time job," Rhoney said, adding that he was told Lederhouse handled about 150 calls a year. Rhoney, 64, did not commit to running for a full four-year term in the 2017 election.


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