This morning, the Franklin County Commissioners and Coroner, Dr. Anahi Ortiz, broke ground on a new Forensic Science Center at 2090 Frank Road in the southwestern part of the county. The new facility will replace the current morgue on King Avenue, which has been used since 1975, and represents a significant upgrade in both the size and capabilities of the coroner’s office. The new Franklin County Forensic Science Center is custom-designed to facilitate the flow of decedents throughout the building to allow staff to process each of their important cases with speed, safety, and the preservation of dignity.
“The new Franklin County Forensic Science Center will allow the coroner’s team to care for deceased members of our community with both the latest science and the greatest care and dignity,” said Board of Commissioners president Kevin L. Boyce. “The facility will also help law enforcement to do their job and provide other county employees with a larger, safer space in which to do their important work.”
The Franklin County coroner’s office investigates all unattended deaths in Franklin County, as well as those caused by violence, criminal means, and suicide. Each year, the office investigates approximately 4,000 death cases and performs about 1,500 autopsies. It also performs laboratory work and otherwise supports nearby counties which may not have sufficient local facilities to address all of their own cases.
“County government plays a role in every stage of our residents’ lives,” said Commissioner Marilyn Brown. “From our better birth outcomes initiatives through early childhood education, social services, criminal justice, aging, and even in death. It is our responsibility to plan and build a facility that meets the growing needs of our community and better serves our residents.”
The new Forensic Science Center will be almost 57,000 square feet, making it three times larger than the current building, and will include eight autopsy stations. The new facility is designed to meet LEED Silver environmental certification, including connections and wiring for the possible future installation of solar panels, and will include plug in stations for six electric vehicles.
“This new facility represents a big investment in our county’s future,” said Commissioner John O’Grady. “Our population has grown by almost 50 percent since we started using the old morgue, and there’s every reason to think that it will continue to grow. Part of smart planning for the future is making sure that we’ve got the infrastructure that we’re going to need, whether it’s roads or telecommunication, or a jail or morgue.”
In addition to being larger than the current building, the new Forensic Science Center will also significantly expand the on-site capabilities of the coroner’s office, including with an expanded toxicology lab, larger facilities for the office’s investigative team, and space and equipment to handle infectious disease cases and mass casualty events.
“Our new Forensic Science Center will enable the Coroner’s Office to provide better, more streamlined and more community oriented services to our residents,” said Franklin County Coroner, Dr. Anahi Ortiz. “Our new center will have better technology, a larger space and a dedicated area for all those who have lost loved ones to view them here. Our county will benefit greatly from the new Forensic Science Center!”
County facilities are generally built, owned, and maintained by the Board of Commissioners though they may be used primarily by another office-holder. The facility is expected to cost the county about $37 million, and will open in 2020.
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