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Coroner-elect considering deputy options

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GREENFIELD — After two days of conducting interviews, Crystel Myers has narrowed down her list of potential deputy coroners.

Thursday concluded the first-come, first-served interview process for the Hancock County coroner-elect’s group of reserves who will take on death investigations when she is unavailable. Myers, who takes office Jan. 1, plans to make an official announcement after the county swearing-in of newly elected officials Dec. 15.

Following her November victory, Myers, who does not have coroner experience but has a degree in mortuary science, said she wanted to assemble a passionate team to serve the county.

Of about 35 who interviewed for a deputy coroner position, Myers has tentatively chosen six and is currently checking their references. Two additional applicants might be kept on an alternates list.

“Everybody had something that stood out, whether it was fire, EMT, police, mortuary science, funeral directors, a clerk at a gas station – everybody had something that shined bigger than somebody else,” she said. “I think we’re all going to work together well.”

While Tamara Vangundy interviewed for a deputy position, the former coroner will not be asked to join the team – at least, not yet, Myers said.

Vangundy was arrested in May after she showed up, impaired, at the scene of a death investigation. She accepted a plea agreement in her drunken driving case that removed her from office and prohibited her from running for re-election.

Myers said she might reconsider Vangundy in the future, but the answer for now is no.

“It’s not that I don’t think she’s qualified,” Myers said. “It’s that I think time heals all wounds.”

Rudy Nylund, who worked as chief deputy coroner under Vangundy, has already been promised a spot on the roster. In fact, he helped Myers conduct interviews this week at the Buck Creek Township Fire Department, where Myers asked applicants to come with a copy of their resume in hand.

Nylund said he was impressed by the turnout.

“There was a lot of quality people that had a lot of backgrounds that would help with this particular field,” he said. “I thought the resumes were very important and the history of their experience, but equally as important was the people skills and communication skills.”

Absent from the candidate pool was Dan Devoy, the interim coroner appointed by the local Republican Party to oversee the office until the end of the year.

Devoy, a Republican who ran as an independent, placed second to Myers in the election.

Myers said she was open to having Devoy on the team. Devoy has served as a deputy coroner in the past and is an experienced investigator.

“I didn’t shun anybody,” Myers said.

But Devoy did not apply.

Joe Fortner, who also ran for coroner in November, expressed interest in working for Myers and sent her his resume, but he did not come to the interviews, Myers said.

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