The Richland County Coroner’s Office is saying goodbye to its former headquarters and relocating to a spacious, new facility.
The move allows the Coroner’s Office to function more cohesively and provide better services to residents now that all of its components are located under one roof. The Coroner’s Office had been sharing a small 5,000-square-foot office space with the Richland County Sheriff’s Department at a location on Pineview Drive. The close quarters forced the Coroner’s Office to store evidence and documents at external locations: the Judicial Center downtown, a Department of Social Services office on Two Notch Road – wherever secure storage space could be found.
“We’ll really be able to stretch out our arms at this new facility and house all of our materials in one place,” said Coroner Gary Watts. “The new location is centrally located and easy for people to find, too. There are a lot of great things about it.”
Located at 6300 Shakespeare Road, the four-acre property included an abandoned warehouse that was transformed into the Coroner’s new 20,000-square-foot headquarters. The property purchase and building renovation project together cost $2.5 million.
With a larger building, the Coroner’s Office is able to expand its evidence area – something that was desperately needed, Watts said – have lots of storage room and establish an anthropology facility. There is also a training conference room that can seat 60 people.
“We can basically do everything here besides autopsies,” Watts said. “Anthropologists will be able to do processing here that they couldn’t do at the old location.”
Updated equipment and the latest technology are incorporated throughout the building to help streamline operations, such as a new electronic bar code system that tracks the thousands of pieces of evidence and personal property that come through the department every year.
A special open house will take place to introduce the new facility to the community. Residents can attend a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. July 14, and tours will begin at 5 p.m. Several elected officials will speak during the ceremony.
“We’re really excited about what an asset this new facility will be to the residents of Richland County and hope the community will come take a tour and learn about everything we’re capable of doing here,” Watts said.