For 25 years, Dr. Edward (Dusty) Jones has served as the coroner for the Barton County-based 20th Judicial District. That era came to a close Monday as the County Commission accepted his letter of resignation.
“He has decided it was time to retire,” County Administrator Phil Hathcock said. “He wants to move on to greater and better things.”
Following this action, commissioners named Dr. Stanley Hatesohl to fill out the balance of Jones’ unexpired term which ends in December 2022. Not unfamiliar with the job, Hatesohl said he had served as the coroner in Clay County for 20 years.
Beginning in 1995, and in accordance with the Kansas statutes, the County Commission of the county with the largest population in a judicial district was mandated to appoint a district coroner to serve a four-year term, Hathcock said. The 20th Judicial District covers Barton, Ellsworth, Rice, Russell and Stafford counties.
Jones was appointed to that first term and has served since, Hathcock said. Last December, he was appointed to the 2019–2022 term.
Jones accepted a position at Central Kansas Medical Center in 1969 and shared pathology duties with the late Dr. Jerome Sayler.
Commissioner Jim Daily, a former police officer and Barton County sheriff, first worked with Jones in 1973 when the doctor was the deputy coroner. He said he appreciated all that Jones had done.
“I have attended many autopsies with this man,” Dailey said. He applauded his professionalism and his teaching skills, noting he’d learned much over the years.
“He made a tragic situation better,” Daily said.
Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz echoed those sentiments. “You provide services most of us don’t want to know anything about.”
It can be a thankless job, she said. Coroners are called in all weather conditions and all times of the day and night, and often do their work behind closed doors.
Sheriff Brian Bellendir presented Jones with a plaque for his years of service. He said he also learned a great deal “about life and death” from the outgoing coroner.
The district coroner is a paid position with a monthly stipend and a per-call fee.
Following the meeting, the commission hosted a reception for Jones and Hatesohl. The event allowed county officials and the public to show their appreciation to both for their commitment to public service.
In addition, Hatesohl will be assisted by deputy district coroners who serve four-year terms. Named last December were doctors: William King, Lyle Noordhoek and Dan Witt, all of Barton County; Jerzy Slomka, Katie McWilliams and Ronald Whitmer, all of Ellsworth County; Kristina Darnauer, Stacy Dashiell, James Decker, Roger Klein and Roger Tobias, all of Rice County; and Fred Farmer of Stafford County.
The terms also run through December 2022.
There are also special deputy coroners who serve terms of one calendar year. Named last December for this year were: Scott Fleming and Rick Robinson of Barton County; Shawn McGowan of Ellsworth County; Steve Bolton of Russell County; and Melissa Dove and Doris Tompkins of Stafford County.
Barton County Commission meeting at a glance
Here is a quick look at what the Barton County Commission did Monday morning:
• Accepted the resignation of Dr. Edward (Dusty) Jones as the 20th Judicial District coroner.
• Appointed Dr. Stanley Hatesohl to finish the remainder of the 2019–2022 coroner’s term.
• Appointed county commissioners Jim Daily and Kenny Schremmer, Sunflower Diversified Services Marketing Director Debbie McCormick and Pawnee County Solid Waste Supervisor Rod Wheaton to the Solid Waste Planning Committee.
By state statute, Barton County is required to form and maintain a Solid Waste Planning Committee to develop and perform an annual review of the Solid Waste Management Plan, which is then approved by the commission. This committee is comprised of representatives of cities, counties and private industry served by the Barton County Landfill, County Administrator Phil Hathcock said.
Retirements had depleted the committee’s ranks, but now all the openings are filled. The uncompensated terms expire in four years.
• Approved a change order for the Barton/Pawnee county line project. Additional reinforcing steel was required in the east reinforced concrete box due to design standards that changed after the project was awarded. By lengthening one set of rebars it will comply with the new standards.
The net cost of the additional steel is $418, with half of the cost being reimbursed by Pawnee County.