Hobson: Cold storage cost prohibitive for county

Published 12:42 am Friday, October 29, 2010

Norman Hobson, a Democrat, is seeking reelection to the office of coroner. He is a funeral director.

Explain how the office of coroner works. When is the coroner’s presence required at the scene of a death and what is the coroner expected to do?

Hobson: Any time someone dies in this county and they are not under the direct care of a physician, such as being a patient in a nursing home, hospital or hospice, the coroner’s office is notified of that person’s death. It is the job of the coroner to determine the cause of that person’s death, the time and manner of that person’s death and to file a certificate of death on that person with the Alabama Bureau of Vital Statistics. The coroner may or may not go to the scene of a person’s death, depending upon the manner of death. Deaths of individuals that are due to accident, suicide, homicide or suspicious causes are investigated at the scene.

Your opponent has raised the issue of facilities for the county coroner, including cold storage. In your opinion, is this needed and what do you think the cost would be?

Hobson: Cold storage units for deceased persons would be very cost prohibitive for this county and would be a waste of taxpayers’ money. That is why I have never considered exploring the possibility of one. The only time cold storage facilities are needed would be when the next of kin could not be notified in a timely manner and the body of a person would need to be held until such notification could occur. Very rarely would these facilities be needed. The coroner’s office has always used the facilities of the funeral home nearest to where the death of a person occurred to hold the body and then after the family is notified, the body is released to the funeral home of a family’s choice.

Why are you a better choice for this office than your opponent?

Hobson: I have 24 years of death investigation experience and my opponent has none. I enjoy a very good working relationship with the other funeral homes, rescue squads, law enforcement agencies and district attorney’s office. All of these different agencies may or may not be involved in the sudden death of a person and it is vital, for the family’s sake, that the different agencies get along well. I have run the coroner’s office with compassion, caring, professionalism and integrity. I have been fiscally responsible in managing this office and watching out for the taxpayer’s money.