Longtime Candler County Sheriff Homer Bell resigned Thursday, effective immediately. The Candler County probate court appointed former Georgia State Patrol trooper Blake Hendrix as interim sheriff, according to county attorney Kendall Gross.
In a letter of resignation filed Thursday with the Candler County Clerk of Courts office, Bell cited health issues as his reason for immediate resignation. He did not include details of those issues and was not immediately available for comment Thursday.
"Over the past 34 years I have had the honor and privilege of serving as your sheriff," he wrote in the letter addressed to Candler County residents. "During that time, I have seen many changes come to law enforcement and the court system and I have had the opportunity to develop many great relationships with the people of Candler County and others.
"However, I am 81 years old, and my health is not nearly as good as it once was," the letter continued. "Based on this, I have decided to retire effective immediately."
Hendrix, a Metter resident recently retired from Statesboro's Georgia State Patrol Post 45, took office immediately after being sworn in. He said he plans to "play it by ear" as he serves as interim sheriff and intends to run for the office in March, when a special election is held.
"I have had an interest (in the sheriff's position) for some time but wanted to wait until Homer retired" before running for the office, he said.
Gross said Candler County Probate Judge Tony Thompson decided to appoint Hendrix "just before noon" Thursday, and Hendrix was sworn in at noon.
"He took office immediately," Gross said.
All Candler deputies were also sworn in again under Hendrix, as required by law, he said.
The special election to elect a full-time sheriff is planned for March 1, 2016, he said.
Candler County Chief Deputy Arthur Miles also resigned Thursday along with Bell. He joined the Sheriff's Office 34 years ago at the same time Bell did, Gross said.
Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.