As Wilf Sommerkorn prepares to clean out his office on the second floor of the Davis County Memorial Courthouse, his bosses downstairs have begun trying to find a replacement.

But how do you replace a guy who's spent 27 years in the county's Community and Economic Development department, 14 of that at the helm?

"We're licking our wounds," said Commissioner Louenda Downs, who oversees economic development for the Davis County commissioners. "He's just an incredible wealth of knowledge and wisdom and insight into what makes economic development and planning happen."

Thursday, Sommerkorn informed commissioners he had accepted the post as director of Salt Lake City's Planning Division. Monday, Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker announced his appointment of Sommerkorn as planning director. He begins his new job Aug. 25.

"I think he'll be a great planner for them," Downs said Monday. "We'll miss him terribly. He's done such a great job."

Besides being the driving force behind economic development, Sommerkorn has served as the executive director of the Davis Council of Governments, a planning committee made up of the 15 Davis County mayors, and representatives from the Davis Chamber of Commerce, Davis School District, Davis Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Hill Air Force Base.

Farmington Mayor Scott Harbertson is the current chairman of Davis COG and says he was caught off guard when the Deseret News called to ask his opinion of Sommerkorn.

"He can't leave," Harbertson joked. "He didn't consult me."

Harbertson said he remembers, as a new mayor and as someone new to local government, the first e-mail he received from Sommerkorn, having never heard of Sommerkorn before.

"What the heck is a Wilf Sommerkorn?" Harbertson remembers thinking.

Over the past two years, his perception has changed to: "I have learned and grown to love that guy."

Sommerkorn, Harbertson says, "is just a guy who digs in and gets the job done. Our loss is their gain."

For his part, Sommerkorn says, it's tough to leave Davis County.

"(But) Salt Lake City, it's Salt Lake City," he said. "It's the place where a lot of things are happening."

During a Monday news conference, Becker tapped Sommerkorn for his "expertise, experience, and well-deserved respect from planners in Utah and nationally."

In Davis County, Sommerkorn's office has overseen the completion of the Davis Conference Center in 2004, its expansion this year and the annual Davis Gala, as well as annual tourism activities, such as the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival and Antelope by Moonlight bike ride.

He and assistant director Barry Burton shepherded the development of plans to maintain two of Davis County's natural resources: its Great Salt Lake shoreline on the county's west side and its foothills on the east side.

"Wetlands are an important part of the community," he said. "People have grown to really want trails for walking and hiking."

He said he was just grateful for the support from the communities to incorporate either a shorelands preservation plan or hillside preservation plan into their general plans.

Even though he will be working for Salt Lake City, Sommerkorn said, he predicts he can help make it a good place for Davis County residents to visit.

Downs said she expects commissioners to have a plan for filling Sommerkorn's post by next week.


E-mail: jdougherty@desnews.com