GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) – The first stand-alone building for the George County Coroner will soon be ready in Lucedale.

For years, the county has rented cooler space in area funeral homes when the need arises for human remains to be held until claimed by family members. It primarily uses a small building behind the George County Funeral Home.

“We needed the facilities for years anyway but when the pandemic came along, we saw escalated use of the facilities. It was just pretty obvious we needed to move forward with this project,” said Board of Supervisors President Frankie Massey.

Massey said the need was obvious when he took office in 2020 and coroner DeeAnn Murrah showed him the facilities she worked in. The county had to divert funds for emergency labor and repair costs to fix the cooling unit in the morgue a number of times over the past few years.

Murrah also has a workspace in the county tax assessor’s office for administrative tasks and to meet with families. The new space, about 1,300 square feet, will allow for more privacy and a consolidated workspace with a reception area, office space, restroom and cooler. Autopsies are performed by the State Medical Examiner.

Deputy Coroner Brennen Ferguson, County Supervisor Frankie Massey, and Coroner DeeAnn Murrah hold the blueprints for the new coroner’s office and county morgue.

The building is on Summer Street, across from the supervisors’ office. The land was purchased by Massey and donated to the county. The entire $225,000 estimated cost for the building will be paid for with funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

It is the second project funded so far with the county’s $4.75 million in ARPA funds, intended for water, sewer and broadband infrastructure, public health and economic recovery projects after the COVID-19 pandemic. Work is also underway on a sewer lift station replacement in the county’s industrial park.

Once funding was secured, the actual construction of the building has moved quickly.

“The notice to proceed was given to the contractor November 18 and five days later there was basically a hull of a building up…We’re excited. It’s a small but important building for our county.”

The supervisors hope the building will be completed and operational by the end of January.