Candidates: Compassion for families important

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 30, 2014

When voters cast their ballots in Tuesday’s primary, the office of county coroner will be another local race pitting an experienced incumbent against a challenger with his own background in the field.

Current Coroner Norman Hobson and challenger Wilson “Eddie” Rowell will appear on the ballot for the third time, and each candidate is boasting experience and compassion as reasons they should receive votes.

“I am seeking my eighth term,” Hobson said. “I have been in this office for 25 years.”

Rowell said he too has a wealth of experience in the medical field.

“I’ve been involved (with the medical field) for a total of 19 years,” he said. “I started in the EMS profession in 1995, but I’ve been a paramedic for 17 years. I believe if you put all of that together, I bring a lot of experience.”

Both men also pointed to having compassion for the family of deceased individuals as an important trait for a corner to possess.

“Obviously you have to have a certain degree of compassion and care when you have to go notify people of the death of a loved one,” Hobson said.

Rowell said he is also capable of bringing that level of professionalism to the office.

“I’m a very compassionate person,” Rowell said. “I want folks to know that I’m going to treat you like I would want to be treated if the roles were reversed and the coroner was knocking on my door. My heart is really in it.”

But, while both candidates agree on what it takes to hold the office of coroner, they differ on several issues, including whether or not the county needs its own morgue.

Hobson, who owns Foreman Funeral Home, said the addition of a morgue would be an unneeded burden on taxpayers.

“I’m totally against a morgue,” he said. “It would be a tremendous waste of taxpayers’ money. The expense of a morgue would be astronomical to maintain.”

Hobson said the only situations that call for the use of a morgue in Covington County are already handled by himself at no cost to taxpayers.

“This county isn’t big enough for a morgue,” Hobson said. “The only time it would be needed is for an unclaimed body, or for medical studies purposes. We maybe have one or two unclaimed bodies a year.

Basically, if it’s an unclaimed body, I will take possession and bury them with no expense to anyone but myself. We have had cases where a person died in the hospital and the family refused to claim the body. In that case, we take possession of the body and hold a ceremony and perform the burial.”

Rowell says the idea of a county morgue may conjure up unrealistic images for the average voter.

“I had someone come to me and ask if we had a cold storage unit,” he said. “We did at one time at the hospital, but we don’t now. I’m not looking to purchase a county morgue. I’m not looking to run anybody’s taxes up. What I’m looking to do is look into it. It’s my understanding that four or five years ago there was some grant money to buy a cold storage unit. I would look into grants to find a simple cold storage unit to store maybe two bodies in an emergency situation in a secure area.”

Rowell said, should a unit be purchased, he would have to confer with county officials as to where it would be placed.

“I can only look into it so far as a candidate,” he said. “It’s something I would have to look into in office, but someone came to me with this question and I can’t turn a deaf ear to people coming to me with questions and then ask for your vote.”

Both men are asking for locals’ votes Tues., June 3, during the Republican primary election.There is not a Democrat on the ballot.