Two Democrats vie for Boyd County Coroner
CATLETTSBURG, Ky. -- Marshall Steen, a consultant with Steen Funeral Home, is challenging Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond in the Democratic primary for Boyd County Coroner in the May 20 primary.
No Republican filed for that office, so the winner of the Democratic primary should be named to a four-year term as coroner, barring a write-in campaign. The job pays $25,000 per year.
Hammond, 44, of Ashland, is seeking his second four-year term as coroner. He also is a part-time paramedic. Hammond feels the job is to be a death investigator, something he feels qualified to do. His priority is "to speak for the deceased in an unbiased manner. I'm one of only nine qualified death investigators in Kentucky."
"I'm accredited through the American Board of Medicolegal Death Investigators, a national certification," Hammond said. "I have over 1,000 hours in death investigator training."
Steen, 52, of Ashland, owner of Steen Cannon and Ordinance Works, is a consultant for Steen Funeral Home in Ashland. He is making his first try at elected office. His feeling about the coroner's office is about 180 degrees away from the way the office currently is being run.
"I've been in the funeral business for 40 years," Steen said. "It seems like the coroner's office is more into police type investigations and law enforcement investigations rather than serving the public. Ninety percent of the calls the coroner gets are natural type causes. We have very few homicides. If there's a question, the body can be sent to the state medical examiner's office."
"I've had a lot of experience dealing with families after a loss," Steen said. "Over 75 percent of the coroners in Kentucky are funeral directors. I'll get investigative training if elected. I'm a lifelong Boyd County resident and I've owned and operated several successful businesses.
Hammond said he's brought the coroner's office to 21st Century standards. "I believe people should have closure," he said. "It's an unbiased office to give people what they need. "We've just opened a new morgue in the Paul Coffey Industrial Park," he said. "We're seeking national accreditation for it."
Steen is concerned about some of the expenses of the office last year, including $2,500 for ammunition. "Boyd County has eight deputy coroners and five of them are full-time," he said.
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