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Time Running Out on Crime Lab Offer
HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio (Deb Dixon) -- The clock is ticking on an offer Hamilton County cannot afford to refuse.
The offer is a donated building for a new crime lab. The lab, in the 40-year-old coroner's office is so outdated and cramped officials fear contamination of evidence.
The Catholic Health Partners is willing to donate the old Mercy Mt Airy Hospital for the lab. The offer was made a year ago, and it will be off the table by the end of the month, because Hamilton County Commissioners have not accepted the offer.
Hamilton County Coroner Dr. Lakshmi Sammarco says she is beyond frustrated. She worked the deal after commissioners told her there wasn't enough money to build a new facility, even though it was recommended in a 95,000 dollar report commissioned by the county. That report had the estimated cost at 56 million dollars. It would cost 21 million to renovate the old hospital.
Dr. Sammarco says this is about the ability to process evidence effectively and keep bad guys off the streets. Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters says it's getting to the point where someone who is in jail, is going to get out because a mistake was made at the lab.
Hamilton County Commissioner Greg Hartmann says getting a new crime is the county's number one capital need. But he says the facility is too big for just a crime lab. He wants the board of elections to move out there too. The county pays 700,000 dollars a year for different sites including the one at 824 Broadway.
Hartmann says if the board can make it work, "It's a go."
Now the board of elections has to vote on moving. Board member Tim Burke says members have had little time to study the proposal, but time is running out on the offer.
They will vote on whether or not to move next week. Two members are Republican, two are Democrat. Some observers expect a vote along party lines.
Dr Sammarco, a democrat and the first woman coroner, has asked everyone involved to put politics aside and do what's right for the people of Hamilton County.