The extensive renovations of the old Starke County Jail in downtown Knox will not include space for the coroner. The county council and commissioners made that decision Monday night when they formally agreed to proceed with reconfiguring that building for the probation department and Starke County Community Corrections.
Money left over from building the new jail will be used for the project, along with $100,000 from community corrections. Those funds were offered on the condition that the existing sally port space will be turned into a conference room. That area was being eyed as a permanent location for the coroner.
County officials had discussed enclosing the recreation area at the jail for use by the coroner, but scrapped that idea due to the expense. No final decisions have been made about where to put an office and body storage and viewing area, but the possibility of building a pole barn-type structure on the 22-acre jail site east of Knox was discussed. County officials agreed that could be done fairly quickly and inexpensively by a local contractor or contractors.
Work on the old jail renovations is expected to start in the spring. The commissioners told coroner Dannie Hoffer the sally port upgrades can be done closer to the end in hopes they won’t have to relocate his department.
Historically one of the county’s funeral directors has served as the coroner and used his own facilities, so the need for morgue space only became an issue recently.