OLYMPIA -- Secretary of Corrections Eldon Vail quit this afternoon citing "personal reasons." Gov. Chris Gregoire who reportedly learned about his decision just today, quickly named a temporary replacement.
A brief statement from the Department of Corrections said his resignation was "effective immediately" but didn't give further information about his reasons for leaving. A call to the department was referred to a spokesman who did not immediately return the call.
A spokeswoman for Gregoire said she had no additional information about Vail's reason for resigning. Asked if Gregoire was surprised by the announcement, she replied "it's fair to say she learned about it today."
Gregoire named Prisons Director Bernie Warner as Vail's interim replacement about 20 minutes after Vail's announcement. Warner played a key role in the prison system's expansion in the 1990s, she said, leading the siting process for Airway Heights Corrections Center and two other facilites. He has worked in California, Arizona and Florida and returned last October to serve as the department's prisons director.