Morgan County Commissioners Recognize Lair, Appoint Patterson to Coroner

By Benjamin Cox on September 23, 2019 at 3:40pm

The Morgan County Commissioners accepted the resignation of a long-time public servant and appointed one of his chief deputies to replace him. Morgan County Coroner Jeff Lair’s resignation was officially accepted by the Morgan County Commissioners this morning. Lair’s resignation will be effective on September 30th. Lair has served in that capacity for 35 years and due to health concerns, cannot fulfill the final year and a half of his current term.

Morgan County Commissioner Chairman Bradley Zeller thanked Lair for his service for the county and its residents. Unfortunately, Lair wasn’t present to hear the praise. Zeller then announced that the Republican Party had nominated Lair’s Chief Deputy Marcy Patterson to fill the remainder of the term that expires in November 2020. Patterson had worked under Lair for the last decade. Patterson talked afterwards about how she got involved in the Coroner’s Office: “Jeff Lair sent me to a 48 hour investigative class about 10 years ago and then he sent me to St. Louis University to be a certified death investigator. He is the most talented man in that industry, and across the nation probably. There is nothing sadder than his health not letting him finish out his term. I can’t begin to know some of the information that he knows. The great thing for our community is Jeff lives here and he’s willing to help answer our questions if we ask him.”

Patterson says only a few minor changes may come internally, but she hopes to continue the work that Lair begun over three decades ago: “I think we need to re-establish a little bit of policy. Over the past 6 months or so, there’s just been a little bit of confusion among the staff about the chain of command in operation. I think we are all looking forward to getting back on the same page about as far as how we are going to respond to calls, about how the dispatch center is going to contact us, and a few administrative stuff that we need to get in line. The office itself is perfectly fine.”

In other commissioner business this morning, they approved the final bills for the FY19 budget totaling $35,631.76, and the second round of bills for the FY20 budget totaling $56,043.83. The majority of the final FY19 was towards the last quarterly payment for dispatch. Chairman Zeller noted they will be moving the pay schedule of the 9-1-1 dispatch up to the begin of the trimester rather than the end of next year to avoid being late on payments. Nearly $30,000 of the FY20 money was towards an annual payment to the Regional Office of Education.

The commissioners also approved the sealed bids on the delinquent tax properties auction. The properties that were eligible for auction had to have no taxes paid on them for 3 years. The minimum bid for the properties were $860 to cover administrative and filing costs. Treasurer Jenny Geirnaert said that she sent out the first round of delinquent tax reminders last week, which totaled about 12,063, down by nearly a thousand from last year. The certified letters required by the state will go out later this week for those who still haven’t finalized their second installment of property taxes.

Phil McCarty also let the board know that he hopes to see incoming federal money after President Donald Trump’s disaster declaration last week. He hopes to use that money to recoup costs of flood mitigation efforts countywide and to repair damaged infrastructure from the lengthy spring flooding. The County Commissioners will next meet on Monday October 7th at the Morgan County Courthouse.