Part of the old jail building in downtown Knox will be converted into morgue space for the coroner’s office on an interim basis. The county commissioners have agreed to turn the attached two-car garage into a secured area for body storage and viewing. Eventually plans call for morgue space at the proposed new IU Health Starke Hospital building.
The commissioners noted the space has to be both secure and appropriate for family members to view bodies should the need arise. County maintenance supervisor Jim Coad says security will not be a problem, and the commissioners agreed to ask the county highway department to make some “restricted area” signs for the garage entrances.
Marshall and Jasper Counties both have morgues. However, recently elected Starke County Coroner Dannie Hoffer says both charge $150 per 24 hours of storage. There’s not enough money in the coroner’s budget to sustain that arrangement on a long-term basis. Officials also noted the facility across from the Starke County Courthouse is centrally located for family members who need to identify bodies.
There’s no word as to when the new morgue will be set up. The commissioners also noted Hoffer’s deputies will need to go through the drug screening and payroll process with the auditor’s office before they can begin work.