The Starke County Commissioners have tasked coroner-elect Adam Gray with finding a suitable space for a morgue. He told the commissioners he needs a completely secure facility to house the county’s cooler and provide a viewing area for family members should an identification need to be made. Gray says the cooler needs 16 feet of clearance. He adds a 20-by-20 space with concrete floors and metal walls will be adequate to meet the county’s needs. The commissioners suggested adding on to the west side of the existing Starke County EMS building in Grovertown or possibly building on another parcel of county-owned land. EMS Director Keith Emigh notes the ambulance garage is a bare-bones facility and said pipes freeze in cold weather.
Gray asked about putting a morgue on the land adjacent to the new jail east of Knox and was told it would probably cost more than the county can afford to spend on the project. The tentative budget is between $30 and $50,000, with funds to come from the Commissioners EDIT. Gray was given a list of county-owned properties and told to work with the county building department to come up with a few options. He will present those to the commissioners at a future meeting. County attorney Marty Lucas advised the cost is low enough the county will not have to let the project for bid. Instead they can submit written requests for design-build quotes to local contractors.
Gray will be the first non-funeral director to serve as coroner in several years. Incumbent Kris Rannells is retiring due to term limits. He and the other coroners have used space at their funeral homes for body storage in the past, so this has not been an issue.