Commissioners approve agreement with Knox Coroner for coroner services

By Alberta Stojkovic - The Sentinel

This week Morrow County Commissioners entered into an agreement with Knox County Coroner, Jennifer Ogle, D.O., as the Morrow County Coroner. Ogle will serve as Morrow County’s Coroner with Dr. Matthew Hintz, M.D. appointed as Deputy Coroner.

This appointment and agreement comes about because of a change in the law that allows a county that is unable to fill a vacancy in the coroner’s office to contract with another county to fill the position. In this case Dr. Hintz is no longer living in Morrow County and it is a qualification of an elected official to live in the county where they serve. Dr. Ogle will not be required to answer or respond to investigations in Morrow County on a day to day basis. Commissioner Tom Whiston said that Dr. Ogle will have coverage in Dr. Hintz absence. She will also have responsibility with some of the clerical work and will be the Coroner of record. All investigation requests will be handled by Dr. Hintz and Forensic Investigator, John Yust who assists Dr. Hintz. Commissioners agreed to Ogle’s request for compensation in the amount of $12,000 per year, or $1,000 per month.

For more than a year Morrow County Commissioners have known they would need to have a solution for filling the vacancy of the County Coroner’s office. Dr. Hintz informed them that his family would be moving their residence from Morrow to Delaware County, while he would be continuing his medical practice in Mount Gilead.

It has been the long standing law that elected county officials must live in the county where their office is. There were no other physicians living in Morrow County who chose to run for the office of Coroner.

This has been a problem for several counties in Ohio and last year there were multiple counties that had no Coroners on the ballot. It has particularly been a problem for rural counties in Ohio. Fortunately the Ohio County Commissioners and State Coroners Association went to work on a solution for counties that couldn’t fill the vacancy of the Coroner.

Ohio House Bill 240 passed Aug. 31, 2016, allowing commissioners to contract with another county’s coroner to exercise powers and perform the duties of their coroner. Dr. Hintz was able to do an interim contract with county commissioners until an agreement could be reached with a neighboring county.

All costs related to this new legal arrangement will be paid by the Morrow County Commissioners from the county’s general fund. Dr. Hintz will be paid a salary from the Coroner Fund through the Morrow County payroll system.

All Coroner records relating to Morrow County will be kept at the coroner’s office in Morrow County. If no office is available the records will be kept at the office of the Clerk of Courts for Morrow County.

By Alberta Stojkovic

The Sentinel

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