ESOPUS – The community is mourning the passing of Esopus Town Supervisor John Coutant, who died unexpectedly at Kingston Hospital on Friday. He was 69.
Coutant served as town supervisor since 2005, and was preparing to run for his sixth term in November. He is survived by his son Todd, his daughter-in-law, and several grandchildren.
Deputy Town Supervisor Kyle Barnett was appointed at a special meeting of the town board to replace Coutant for the remainder of his term.
Barnett said the direct cause of Coutant’s death remains unclear.
“We don’t really know precisely at this time. He had hernia surgery several months ago, he was still feeling kind of sluggish, went in for some checks, and they found an infection in his leg,” he said.
“Fortunately for us, John was a hands-on supervisor; he really did a great job of staying on top of any issues we were dealing with,” Barnett said. “The main issue right now is making sure there’s a smooth transition in terms of financials, making sure bills get paid, and accounts receivable,” he said.
“He was not only a supervisor and leader of our town, he was a good friend to all of us, and he loved Esopus,” noted Town Councilwoman Diane McCord. “Kyle was appointed in January as deputy supervisor, but none of us would ever expect that this would happen,” she said.
Town Councilwoman Gloria Van Vliet is in shock over Coutant’s death.
“We’ve lived in Esopus all of our lives,” Van Vliet said. “My husband went to high school with John. They were buddies in high school. We had a lot of together time over the years. It’s very hard for all of us. We are all in shock.”
Coutant’s administration was marked by construction of a new Town Hall in 2008, and the installation of solar panels on town property.
State Senator George Amedore called Coutant “a friend and an outstanding public servant. He had a tremendous vision, and was instrumental in increasing green energy sources and bringing solar power to the community.”
A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday, June 23, at the Mount Academy on Route 9W. Barnett has also ordered flags flown at half-staff for a month in Coutant’s honor.