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When a pipe burst recently at the Coroner’s Office, forcing the staff to transfer all its work to Boulder County, Clear Creek officials resumed the search to find the office a new, permanent home. …
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When a pipe burst recently at the Coroner’s Office, forcing the staff to transfer all its work to Boulder County, Clear Creek officials resumed the search to find the office a new, permanent home.
As of March 24, staff was drafting a request to have contractors remodel the first and second floor of Station 1A, the EMS station in Dumont, to house the Coroner’s Office. The first floor and second floor are currently vacant, aside from the garage.
Based on an estimate from a few years ago, the remodel would take at least $1 million, although staff members were confident the county could get a return on its investment over time.
According to Operations Manager Beth Luther and Coroner Chris Hegmann, other mountain counties are in dire need of rooms to conduct exams and autopsies. Thus, Clear Creek could forge agreements with these counties to host them for financial compensation.
During a March 22 work session with the county commissioners, Hegmann emphasized that an autopsy suite would be necessary to get a return on investment and conduct general business.
Because autopsy suites are so similar to exam rooms, they can be used for both. If Clear Creek doesn’t have an autopsy suite, it would have to go to the Denver metro area for every autopsy; and if it doesn’t have an exam room, staff would need to go out-of-county for every case, he said.
If the plan to remodel Station 1A moves forward, Luther estimated a remodel could be done in six to eight months once Clear Creek chooses and hires a contractor.
However, the commissioners seemed unsure about this solution during their work session.
Commissioner George Marlin asked: “What else could that $1 million get us?”
Staff explained that there are other options: Buying the current property at 521 Center Alley in Idaho Springs; buying another property; or relocating the Coroner’s Office to the Jordan House near the Scott Lancaster Memorial Trail. However, those alternatives come with drawbacks, including costs.
Another problem Hegmann described is that his office is running out of space.
Over the past four years, the number of deaths in the county has increased substantially, and even at the current site, he’s running out of space. He said that, regardless of where the Coroner’s Office moves, it needs to have room to grow or be much bigger than his current space already.
“It could work, for sure,” Hegmann said of moving to Station 1A. “ ... (But) there’s nowhere to expand. If you’re laying out the money to meet current capacity, do we want to look ahead a little further?”
Luther clarified on March 24 that the request document will ask for a range of project components, adding that Station 1A hasn’t been renovated or updated at all since it was built about 20 years ago. The building needs a new roof, fresh coat of paint and new plumbing fixtures, she said.
Thus, the request will ask for estimates on various options, including a basic plan for the Coroner’s Office, an expanded plan for the Coroner’s Office and/or other general updates around the building.
In the meantime, the current site in Idaho Springs will be usable once the burst pipe is fixed, Luther clarified, saying that the county is working with the property owners to finish repairs in the coming weeks.
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