MARION — Williamson County officials have decided to build a new morgue instead of renewing a lease on its current building at the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge.
The board voted recently to accept a $266,000 building bid submitted by Evrard-Strang Construction of Marion for a new facility. The new morgue will be built on the Williamson County Highway Department’s yard off Illinois 37.
Commissioners are hoping to have the new morgue built by summer’s end or early fall. It will contain the latest state-of-the art equipment for autopsy procedures and other items pertaining to forensic science, said board Chairman Ron Ellis.
Project architect Steve May of D.A.R.T. Design in Herrin said the new facility will have a large walk-in cooler with racks and a large two-tray freezer. It is being designed to hold a large cadaver capacity if disaster should strike, May said.
Both Ellis and Commissioner Brent Gentry said surrounding counties are also planning to retain Williamson County morgue services.
“We will incur an income,” Ellis said.
Gentry said the board opted to build a new morgue after looking at other locales. The current morgue is located on federally owned property off Illinois 148 in the Crab Orchard National Wildlife Refuge, where soil solvents tested positive in 2009 for indicators of contaminants,
“We didn’t have a choice. We looked at other locales. This will provide the needed security with detailed monitoring,” Gentry said.
Ellis said the county coroner office has permanently located on the third floor of the Williamson County Administration Building.