New Oklahoma medical examiner's building is a step closer

The Council of Bond Oversight reauthorized issuance of $38.5 million in bonds for construction of the new headquarters for the Oklahoma medical examiner's office.
by Nolan Clay Modified: September 27, 2013 at 1:00 pm •  Published: September 26, 2013

In a couple of years or so from now, if everything goes as planned, bodies will be delivered for autopsies to the medical examiner's office new headquarters at the southeast corner of the University of Central Oklahoma.

The site now is a parking lot.

The start of construction on the 48,000-square-foot building moved a key step closer Thursday.

In a quick meeting, the Oklahoma Council of Bond Oversight voted to reauthorize the sale of bonds to raise money for the $38.5 million project.

The council vote came two days after the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected legal challenges to the project.

“It's been a long time coming,” said Preston Doerflinger, the state's finance secretary and a member of the council. “It is appropriate and necessary.”

Doerflinger said the medical examiner's office currently “is doing great work in a subpar facility.” He said he was thankful Supreme Court justices “took the action that they did to clear the way for us to take action.”

Behind the delay

The council approved the project in January but it had not moved forward because of the legal protests. That earlier approval had expired.

The medical examiner's office is responsible for investigating sudden, violent, unexpected and suspicious deaths. Much of the work at the medical examiner's office involves autopsies that are crucial to murder cases and important to families wanting answers about why their loved ones died.

It lost its national accreditation in 2009, in part because its main headquarters south of the Capitol in Oklahoma City is a small, outdated facility.

In May 2012, bodies sent to the Oklahoma City office had to be kept in refrigerated trucks until a 42-year-old cooler could be repaired.

The new building is to go up on university property just north of a fire station on Second Street. The site is northeast of the Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce and across the street from a Starbucks coffee shop.

The building will be within walking distance of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation's forensics laboratory and the university's own Forensic Science Institute.

The university will own the property initially and lease it to the state for as long as 30 years. Payments on a 30-year lease would be about $2.4 million a year.

by Nolan Clay
Sr. Reporter
Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,...
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