Last week's surprise announcement from interim Gasconade County Sheriff Mark Williams isn't deterring plans for the sooner-than-expected changeover in departmental leadership.
On Sept. 15, Williams said he had decided to resign as sheriff, effective next Wednesday, Sept. 30. He said he arrived at the decision after talks with the Gasconade County Commission and his family.
That means Sheriff-Elect Scott Eiler -- who's currently an officer for the Hermann Police Department and who won the Aug. 4 Republican primary for sheriff -- will now be assuming the position on Thursday, Oct. 1. There are no other formalized candidates for sheriff in the Nov. 3 general election.
On Monday, Eiler told the Advertiser-Courier he was surprised by Williams' decision -- yet noted that the upcoming changes in timing won't upend any plans he has for becoming sheriff.
"No, not really," he said, adding he intends to work with the commission and County Clerk Lesa Lietzow on the transition. "It doesn't change anything."
He's given a two-weeks' notice to the city and Police Chief Marlon Walker of his departure from the force. Sunday will be his final day of work for the city. He said he wants to foster a good working relationship with county officials and intends to make himself available for any consultations.
Eiler said he is planning to bring two personnel along with him. One -- Roger Armstrong, currently of the Cuba Police Department -- will be a major who will start on Oct. 2. Armstrong has already given notice of his departure from Cuba Police. The other addition to the department is slated to be a sergeant, whom Eiler declined to identify.
Walker said Monday he is still in the process of searching for a replacement for Eiler.
The commission voted to accept Williams' resignation during its regular meeting on Sept. 17. Presiding Commissioner Larry Miskel said then that there were no plans for an immediate discussion of sheriff's department personnel. In early August, the commission gave Williams permission to hire more staff.
"This decision was not make in haste," wrote Williams in his letter. "Based on our current manpower issues, I feel that it is imperative that Sheriff-Elect Scott Eiler take office early in order to address the ongoing manpower crisis. It has proven difficult to attract applicants who wish to work for the Sheriff's Office on a full-time basis. This is most likely due to the fact that some people are hesitant to apply at a department during a transition period. Most applicants like and even require stability. And in my opinion that stability cannot be attained until Sheriff-Elect Eiler is in office."
Miskel said the commission has been in talks with Eiler on the upcoming switch for the agency, including the arrangements that will be needed for administering the oath of office as interim sheriff for the next three months. Eiler sometime later will recite the oath of office as the county's new, duly elected sheriff.
Williams took over as interim sheriff in late March, following the resignation of Sheriff John Romanus. In his letter, he said he would remain on staff through the end of the year to assist with the transition.