The Natrona County Commission on Tuesday morning appointed a longtime Natrona County Coroner investigator to fill the post to be vacated by retiring Coroner Connie Jacobson.

Commissioners interviewed James Whipps and two other candidates during a special meeting before adjourning into an executive session and reconvening to nominate and approve him.

The other candidates were coroner investigator Russ Dalgarn and nurse practitioner Dr. Nicolette Hanson.

The coroner's position, like the other elected officials in Natrona County, is partisan.

After Jacobson announced her retirement last month effective Aug. 31, the Natrona County Republican Party's central committee called for applicants, held a meeting last week, and the delegates chose Whipps, Dalgarn and Hanson among the applicants.

Tuesday, the three told the commissioners much of what they said last week.

Whipps said he already is a part-time investigator, has a certification with the American Board of Legal Investigators, and has been with the office for 15 years.

The coroner has a larger role in leadership and administration, and he earned that experience in the military, business and the government, Whipps added.

After finding the truth about the death, the coroner also has the responsibility to deal with the family of the decedent in a time of crisis, he said.

Whipps intends to make the coroner's job for the next 12 to 16 years, given the voters re-elect him, he added.

After his appointment, he said he will continue and enhance the work Jacobson has done.

"Now, as the coroner, I guess it's to go in and take what Connie has laid as groundwork, and keep that status quo and build upon it," Whipps said.

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Wyoming law mandates the coroner to investigate and assist in the determination of the manner and cause of deaths. The coroner directs independent medical and legal investigations of death cases that come under the jurisdiction of the office, determines the positive identification of the decedent, and responsible for finding the cause of death where circumstances surrounding the death are obscure or suspicious.