ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – Kane County Coroner Rob Russell stood in front of what will be his new, 12,000 square-foot office and morgue on the Judicial Center Campus before giving a short tour on the nearly finished building, which is to be ready for an April 30 grand opening and ribbon cutting.
“Obviously, we’re excited,” Russell said. “After the ceremony, we plan on moving in that weekend.”
The coroner’s facility is part of the larger, 55,000-square-foot $13 million multi-purpose building that will also house storage space for Kane County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team, bomb squad equipment, vehicle maintenance and the county’s Facilities Maintenance Department.
The new digs are a far cry from the 2,500-square-foot former seminary laundry facility at the government center in Geneva.
The colors are muted, after all, when the public comes here, it isn’t for a happy occasion.
The flooring is dark brown vinyl flooring with a wood-look and the carpeting is in various shades of dark and lighter brown. The walls are a light beige. Cabinets are also dark brown.
But there’s room – exactly what they didn’t have enough of in the other location.
The reception area is open and bright with sunshine from lots of windows.
“This is the foyer where people come in. This is where our secretaries will be there and there,” Russell said, gesturing to open spaces where desks and phones will eventually be set up.
“We’re going to have a monitor right there … that will have all the active cases and where they are at as far as the investigation,” Russell said.
Directly in back of the secretaries and reception area a storage area for initial files and office supplies for administrative employees to use, he said.
Parallel hallways lead to various offices and rooms, including a large space for training.
“There’s all kinds of training. Scalding water death training. Drowning death training – all these specialized types of trainings … for forensic and detectives to join us,” Russell said. “Right now, the only post-mortem training is at Cook County.”
The training room at his new office can serve as a regional training center for counties that are closer to Kane than Cook, he said.
The new facility has a room for depositions, Russell’s office, the pathologists’ office, chief deputy and other deputies’ offices, a room for families who are grieving, a room to store cold case files, and a room where all the evidence and biologicals from past homicides or suspicious deaths are stored.
The morgue is accessed through a curved driveway that leads to a indoor garage where the deceased person is taken inside. The family viewing room is located nearby.
There is a hazmat room for when remains have come in contact with something hazardous or contagious.
The walk-in cooler to store the deceased is probably half as big as the current location in Geneva.
The facility also has a separate room for storing remains that are in advanced stages of decomposition but that still need to be autopsied, he said.
The autopsy room is huge, well-lighted, and has three television screens that will display the case and work being done.
The air-handling system there is set up so that it constantly takes air away from where autopsies are conducted to control smells.
The new coroner’s office also has a washer and dryer located just off the autopsy room so deputy coroners can clean their clothes right there. The new facility also has lockers and showers where they can wash up after attending to a death, something Russell had complained about lacking at the current site.
The autopsy room also has space for an x-ray machine so the coroner’s office can do their own x-rays. Currently, they have to take the deceased to Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital to be x-rayed, “which is inconvenient for everybody.” Russell said.
“And I found out you don’t have to be an x-ray technician to ex-ray a dead body,” Russell said.
Russell said he lost track of how many hours he spent collecting information and researching what the new coroner facility should have – not only for his use, but for the future.
And toward that nod to the future, coroner’s facility also has 5,000 square feet in the middle between it and the sheriff’s needs in case it needs to be expanded, Russell said.
Jeff Chidester, the site superintendent for R.C. Wegman Construction Company, said the furniture is all coming in the week of April 5, which gives the work crews another two weeks to put in all the finishing touches.
“I want to see the old facility – in my rear-view mirror,” Russell said.
Source: The Daily Chronicle