By Amanda Ensinger
Franklin Township residents received a lesson in forensic science at a recent board meeting thanks to a presentation by Franklin County leadership.
Franklin County Board of Commissioners Deputy County Administrator Kris Long discussed the new morgue coming to the area.
“The new morgue will be where the old Harmon Elementary School was,” Long said. “This site will be home to the new Forensic Science Center or morgue. Construction will start at the end of the year and the building will be done by the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020.”
The new center will sit on 10 acres of property at 2090 Frank Road.
“Basically, we put a new building on the old foundation of the school,” said Lou Pallay, senior associate at Moody Nolan, the architect and engineer of the building. “We will be a business classification and will operate 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., like most office buildings.”
Costing approximately $31 million to construct, the two-story building will boast 55,000 square feet and include public parking, open green space, an education center, conference spaces, investigation suites, a research lab and the morgue.
The current morgue has been located on The Ohio State University’s campus for almost four decades and offers staff limited room. The new facility will give staff the space they need.
“We also will have students training in the building,” Pallay said. “As a result of the heroin epidemic, there has been an increase in organ donations, so we also will have an organ harvesting area.”
Pallay said that the bodies will be brought into the facility discreetly. Embalming and incineration also will not occur at the new building.
“I think this is a great asset for this area of the county,” said Aryeh Alex, Franklin Township trustee. “These employees will want to get lunch, so that will help local businesses.”
Trustee John Fleshman added that this investment in the region can only help local residents.
“I think values of the properties in this area are going to go up,” Fleshman said. “I would much rather welcome something like this that is substantial than something that will hurt the environment.”
Township leadership also talked about the continuing issue with heroin overdoses in the area.
“We are going to partner with Franklin County Public Health to put Narcan in all the cruisers,” said Byron Smith, Franklin Township police chief. “We are going to train with the fire department on how to administer it.”
Smith also informed residents that the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office H.O.P.E. task force will now be investigating non-fatal overdoses.
“Before the sheriff and we didn’t investigate these, however we will be changing our policy now,” Smith said. “After you overdose twice, the third time you will be charged.”