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Deputy Coroner Will Resign In December

By David Howell


WATER VALLEY – Supervisors appointed Cindy Tritt to serve as the county’s deputy coroner following a recommendation from Coroner Ronnie Stark. The appointment came during Monday’s Board of Supervisor meeting after Stark also delivered a resignation letter from deputy coroner Debbie Jackson.

“I am primarily resigning for lack of support from the county officials by their failure to provide property safety equipment,” Jackson wrote in the letter addressed to Stark. “That equipment is a radio on the county frequency, that is all the communications available since my own personal cell phone has limited areas of operation because of dead areas in the county.”

Jackson’s resignation is effective on December 31 and follows repeated requests from Stark made each year at budget time for the county to provide two radios at a cost of $1,800 each. She has served under Stark as deputy coroner for eight years. 

“I had a chance to speak with her… she only expressed to me that some of the calls that she goes on when she picks up a body, sometimes it is late at night in some unsavory places. She felt a little uncomfortable being by herself, and being a female,” District 3 Supervisor Lee McMinn said during discussion about the matter. “That kind of mirrors what she is saying here, I suppose,” McMinn added. 

Board President Cayce Washington reiterated his position that the county already provides a cell phone for Stark for communications.

“I completely understand her position, but I also know that traveling nurses go to a lot of bad spots and they don’t have police radios. They have cell phones. It is one of the risks of the job. I just find it hard that the county should supplement certain tools to different departments,” Washington countered.

“You could argue and say that we are not taking care of their safety, but when you sign up for the job you know what you are getting. That is why I take the position that I have – a cell phone, to me, is adequate,” he continued. 

Washington also said if the coroner or deputy coroner is concerned about responding to a call, they can contact the sheriff’s department and ask them to meet them.

“To have a $3,000 radio on your hip that can get damaged or torn up at the county’s expense, I struggle with that personally,” Washington continued.

“I would just like to say most of the time when you go to someone’s house and they have lost a loved one, you are not thinking about someone being irate,” Stark said. “You get someone who is under a lot of stress, a family member, you don’t know what they are gonna do. You don’t know until you are there. And when you are in that situation you have no way of getting help,” Stark explained. He also said it would be a burden to ask the sheriff’s department to respond to all calls with the coroner or deputy coroner.

“As a volunteer fireman in my early 20s, we paid for our own radios. We wanted to serve our communities. I financed a $300 radio to serve my community,” Washington noted.

“It is a crazy world when you can go to a country music concert and get your head blown off,” McMinn said.

“Tell her that we thank her for her service and are sorry that she feels that way,” Washington said as discussion on the matter came to a close.

Next supervisors agreed to pay the $695 fee for an online 40-hour class as part of `Tritt’s certification. Stark told supervisors that Tritt is a registered nurse and lives on the west side of the county. 

The change follows a busy month as the corner’s office responded to 15 death calls in September. Stark reported that 14 of the deaths were from natural causes and one from a fatality in a vehicle accident. 

Stark receives a $550 monthly salary for the job. The job also pays $125 per call, money that is paid to either Stark or Jackson, depending on who responds. Stark can also request assistance from a coroner or deputy coroner from a neighboring county to respond to a death call in Yalobusha County. In that case, the $125 fee is also paid to the responding official.

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