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Franklin County celebrates new Forensic Science Center and morgue

 Local lawmakers cut the ribbon on the Franklin County Forensic Science Center
George Shillcock
Local lawmakers cut the ribbon on the Franklin County Forensic Science Center

Franklin County dedicated its new, state of the art morgue — three years after it initially opened.

The Franklin County Forensic Science Center first opened in May 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the county being able to celebrate the 56,000 square foot facility. Local lawmakers and county officials joined County Coroner Dr. Nathaniel Overmire at the building for a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony Wednesday.

"The space represents not only a physical structure, but a symbol of hope, progress and resilience. We are excited about the possibilities that this building holds for our team and our community. It will be a space where ideas are nurtured, collaborations are forged and positive change is cultivated," Dr. Overmire said.

Deputy Franklin County Administrator Chris Long says the building is state of the art and takes into account the modern necessities of a morgue in a fast-growing city.

"This is not the old style morgue that you think of. It is state of the art toxicology, histology, pathology, crime investigation. All of these need the kind of expertise that this community deserves," Long said.

The county had to find a new location for its morgue and coroner's office after The Ohio State University called in 2013 to say the office needed to move from the space it leased with the university.

"It was a blessing in disguise when they called us in 2013, 2014 to say that we needed to move and find another space to be," Long said. "But it turned out that that really was something that was needed for this community to have the kind of space that is needed."

Long and the building's developers lauded the building's design, which also features more natural light and does more to shield workers from any pathogens or infections from the corpses they work with everyday.

The day was hot and windy as the county officials celebrated the new building. Dr. Overmire inserted some humor into the presentation after a backdrop behind the podium was almost blown onto Long while she spoke.

"I'm getting scared. I don't want anybody to end up over there," Dr. Overmire said, pointing to the new building.

Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce said the county invested nearly $37 million into the building and planning started in 2014.

"No matter where you are in Franklin County, it's indicative of the positive elements of growth. But then there are the parts of growth that we don't necessarily want to talk about. With more people come more deaths and come the requirements and needs to accommodate those deaths," Boyce said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.