Construction wrapping up on morgue and staging area

By Tilly Dillehay

May 16, 2014

Macon County’s new staging area, storage facility, and short-term morgue is in the final stages of construction and is on track to open on Monday, May 19. The building is located on Hwy 52, behind the E-911 emergency building and next to the Justice Center.

It will be utilized for a mishmash of county needs. There will be office space for the Maintenance Department that serves the Justice Center and E-911. There will also be an environmentally controlled supply room, used for specific stored items. There will be a large wash bay and minor maintenance area. There will be a large storage area, connected to a loading dock, which can also be used for commodity distribution in times of emergency.

“We didn’t have anything like that during the 2008 tornado,” said E-911 Director Steve Jones. “This is a place for everything to come together during extreme weather emergencies.”

Inside the building, there is also a walk-in cooler that will be used as a temporary morgue. “It’s just set up as a temporary holding area for a body, for 12 to 24 hours,” said Jones. “A lot of people get worried or upset when they hear there’s going to be a morgue. But I can’t tell you how often someone will pass away who’s moved into the county and doesn’t have family nearby. We have to store that body while we contact the family and find out what they’re going to do, where the services are, and all that. That’s what you do, you put the body in cold storage—you don’t freeze it, you just keep it at a temperature of 38-40 degrees.”

Jones indicated the main front garage doors, where a funeral home or ambulance could back in and unload. He also pointed out a private rear entrance, for when an individual comes to the facility to identify a body.

The facility is built to withstand extreme weather, and will have a camera security system.