Pulaski County crews continue preparing the former Winamac Masonic Lodge for use as a county morgue and office building. The county commissioners got an update Monday from Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Johnston.
“County Highway removed the trees and bushes around the building,” Johnston said. “There’s some cleanup we have to do and I’m having the stumps removed, but thanks to them for taking care of that. The Maintenance Department’s built one wall inside. We have two more walls to build, and I’m meeting with TM Construction later this morning about doors and partial wall removal. Once the partial wall’s removed, we’ll go ahead and work on the morgue cooler.”
Not only will the old Masonic Lodge serve as the new county morgue, but it will also house the Pulaski County Emergency Management Agency. Johnston said the building will need a generator, and all of the EMA’s radio equipment will have to be moved from the courthouse. “Originally when we were looking at moving her radio equipment, we were getting ridiculous, astronomical numbers of like $100,000 to move this stuff,” Johnston said. “To move this stuff to the Mason’s Lodge is going to cost us $10,000, which is awesome. I mean, that’s a lot less than what we had originally anticipated.”
To cover that cost, Johnston suggested looking into whether the county’s DRMO funds could be used. That money comes from the sale of former military equipment owned by the county.
Sheriff Jeff Richwine told the commissioners he didn’t mind using that money, but he wanted more information about how the EMA’s radio equipment is used. He noted that the Sheriff’s Department is setting up agreements to use neighboring counties’ radio equipment, if Pulaski County’s 911 Center were to go down. Johnston said he thought at least some of the EMA’s equipment was different from that used by the Sheriff’s Department, but he agreed to discuss it more with EMA Director Sheri Gaillard.