After serving four and a half years as Finney County Emergency Management's director and the six years prior as its assistant director, Gilbert Valerio died unexpectedly Monday morning from medical issues.

Finney County Emergency Management Assistant Director Anthony Cruz will act as interim director for now, according to a press release from Finney County. Cruz is a Kansas Certified Emergency Manager (KCEM).

Valerio, who became the department's director in December 2014, was a KCEM and well respected across the state as part of the Kansas Emergency Management Association, according to the release. In addition to his local work, he traveled to the gulf coast to assist with emergency management activities that followed Hurricane Harvey in 2017, according to the release.

In the release, Finney County employees offered condolences to Valerio's family.

“Gilbert was hard working and always had ideas to make Finney County and the Emergency Management department better," Finney County Administrator Randy Partington said in a press release. "He will be missed at Finney County, both in the organization and the community."