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Cremation may be an option for unclaimed bodies

September 13, 2017--9:48 a.m.

By David Crowder

Floyd County Coroner Gene Proctor is seeking a change of policy that would allow for the cremation of unclaimed bodies that are received by the coroner’s office.

Proctor, who raised the issue with Floyd County Commissioners on Tuesday, said there are two main reasons why he is seeking the change.

“We are running out of space at our cemetery,” he said. “As it stands, if we continue with traditional burials, we are looking at five maybe six years of space. If we go to cremation, I can extend that time to about 30 or 35 years of space. Also, DFCS has already warned us that we are not putting enough money into the coffers for all these indigent burials. Cremation, being less expensive, should cure that problem.”

Indigent burials are usually done at East View Cemetery, which is maintained by the City of Rome Cemetery Department.

“They are in charge of opening and closing a grave for us, at no expense to the coroner’s office,” Proctor said. “That is another expense that will be alleviated. With cremations, I will be able to hold those cremains for a while until I get a certain number. If nobody claims those remains within a certain amount of time, I can have them placed in the cemetery, but I could put six sets on cremains in one gravesite.”

Floyd County used to have 25 to 30 unclaimed bodies a year, but recently that average has jumped to more than 40.

“It directly affects the bottom-line budget of the body because we have to do something with these people,” Proctor added. “We have to give them a dignified placement when they die even if they don’t have family or friends that will take care of them. It’s up to us to handle it in a dignified manner.”

Proctor said the county manager and county commissioners seemed willing to work with him on the issue.