“I can’t control death, unfortunately, and this has been an extremely, extremely difficult year,” Hodge said, explaining that he doesn’t expect the situation to improve in the coming years.
There are one salaried deputy coroner and four special deputies, who only get paid as they are called upon to work. Some cases, he explained, have needed two or more deputies.
Hodge said there were nine deaths in the month of February that required a coroner and he would not have been able to complete some of those jobs without help.
“There’s certain things that each deputy does … I’m trying to speed the process up and do it efficiently,” he said, explaining that, in the case of wrecks, his ability to work quickly affected anyone traveling in the area, as well, because the police officers had to block the road while he worked. “Till my job’s done, that road’s closed,” he said.
Hodge said he has not had a budget increase in three years, yet the number of deaths has increased, as have the costs of equipment.
“When you only have $4,000 for an entire year, that isn’t a lot of money,” he said.
He acknowledged his department doesn’t generate money but said he hopes the Fiscal Court will consider increasing funding.
“I appreciate what you do for me … but at the same time, I’m in a place right now where I’m kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place with four months to go” in the fiscal year, Hodge said.
He recently had to transfer money within his budget, from coroner’s salary to supply, to help cover costs.
In other business:
- Brandon McGlone spoke on behalf of the Garrard County AmeriCorps, explaining the upcoming Build-A-Bed project that the group is hosting. The organization hopes to build 20 beds, with mattresses, for children in Garrard County and accompany those with “bedtime baskets” featuring stuffed animals, books and sheets, among other things. They hope these will be completed using donations from the community. The date for the build is May 4.
- Magistrates approved a Land and Water grant resolution on behalf of Lancaster-Garrard County Recreation Park south of Lancaster. The park is under new management and is applying for a grant of about $100,000.