Will County Board moves forward on construction of new morgue

The board decided to set a $7 million maximum price on construction of the future facility

The Will County Board voted to move forward with the construction of a new $7 million morgue during its meeting last Thursday.

The board voted to authorize Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant, D-Shorewood, to negotiate a contract with Wight & Company of Darien to design the facility.

The board also approved a similar resolution to pursue a contract with Leopardo Companies of Chicago to build the morgue, but most Republican members voted against it. Member Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort, said he voted against the resolution because of the county’s process on finding a construction firm.

“I voted no because I didn’t think it was inclusive enough,” Moustis said.

He added the county should have considered firms owned by people of color, something county officials and others have called for. Moustis pointed to the county’s hiring of a diversity and inclusion consultant to examine how the county hires contractors and said the construction of the morgue was an opportunity to include more firms.

Moustis also argued for more board members to be involved with the process, although four members sat on the hiring committee which interviewed and selected the top applicants during an open meeting last month.

Will County Coroner Laurie Summers has advocated for a larger facility which would be more adequate to serve a growing county. The existing facility is on Caton Farm Road in Crest Hill in a building which also houses the county’s department of transportation and sheriff’s department.

The board also voted to set the maximum price tag for the new morgue at $7 million. While a county board committee had initially set aside federal funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act for the morgue, members this month decided to use contingency funds for the project.

The future morgue is planned to be built near the Will County Public Safety Complex in Joliet Township.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.