Starke County officials are going to have to find morgue space within the next year. A committee comprised of council president Dave Pearman, auditor Kay Chaffins and president of the commissioners Kathy Norem met recently with coroner Kris Rannells and former coroners directors Doug O’Donnell and Mark Smith to discuss the needs of the office. President of the Commissioners Kathy Norem says that was one of the big issues they raised.
“The funeral directors have been providing that, basically, and when the election comes up for the coroner Kris is termed out. We’re being told none of the undertakers intend to run for that job, so morgue space is going to become a problem,” said Norem.
Norem says the county will not need a large amount of space.
“They do have a portable cooler that Kris has got, but it needs a place to go. So probably we’ll have to look at something in the short term to provide some morgue space until we can come up with a more permanent solution a couple of years down the road. That is something we’re going to have to address,” Norem said.
Pearman says putting the morgue at the new jail isn’t a viable option due to the design of the structure, not to mention the fact that construction isn’t slated to wrap up for two years. One possibility is using the existing jail building once the new jail opens, but that doesn’t solve the more immediate problem.
One more immediate option is contracting with IU Health Starke Hospital to use the room in the basement that was designated as a morgue many years ago but has never, to anyone’s knowledge, been used for that purpose. It’s presently a storage space and is large enough to accommodate a cooler and table. County officials are going to look into whether this is a viable option and revisit the matter in the future.