Bulloch County Coroner Jake Futch has the unclaimed cremains – cremated remains – of 16 deceased persons in a closet in his office.
He says there are at least 60 more unclaimed cremains stored elsewhere in his office and at two local funeral homes, adding that an undetermined number may also be kept in other funeral homes.
During a Bulloch County Commission meeting Tuesday evening, he suggested Bulloch County purchases a mausoleum crypt to give the unclaimed dead a respectable place to rest and “be stored in a decent manner.”.
Such a crypt would hold 300 cremains, he said.
When a person dies and has no family, or relatives do not have the means to pay for a funeral, the county takes responsibility for handling the body, usually through cremation, Futch told commissioners. While a burial could cost around $3,500, a cremation costs only around $500.
His announcement led to a brief but lively discussion about options for proper handling of unclaimed cremains.
Bulloch County Manager Tom Couch suggested possibly purchasing a “plot for a scattering garden” where ashes could be placed. Futch mentioned a “pauper’s grave” cemetery space at Eastside Cemetery that is now closed, where people with no families or who are unknown have been buried.
He, Couch and Commission Chairman Garrett Nevil also discussed the option of scattering ashes over the Ogeechee River, as any have done in the past, Nevil said.
After further discussion, including comments from various commissioners about the request by Futch as being unusual, the topic was tabled for further discussion. The issue will be addressed at a later county commission meeting.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.