County seeking new coroner again

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Routt County is in search of a new coroner just months after finding an interim coroner this summer.

Dwight Murphy, who has worked with Routt County and Steamboat Springs law enforcement since 1994, was chosen by Routt County commissioners to be the interim coroner in August after former coroner Doug Allen resigned.

Murphy has worked as a deputy coroner since 1997. He recently resigned from the county post because he has been hired to help train Iraqi police officers, one step in efforts to establish democracy in the country.

In January, Murphy will leave the United States and travel to Iraq as part of a group of civilian police officers with the goal of training 20,000 Iraqis by April.

"I know this all happened in July, and here we are back at the table in December," Murphy said during his discussion with county commissioners Tuesday. "Life's got a lot of twists and turns and you never know where you're going to end up."

County commissioners said they would use a similar process as they did in the summer to find a replacement for Murphy.

Murphy came to Steamboat Springs in 1994, working first for the Routt County Sheriff's Office and then for the Steamboat Springs Police Department, where he has served as project director for the Grand, Routt and Moffat Narcotics Enforcement Team.

He is leaving a staff of four deputy coroners, which include veterans Rob Ryg and Heather McLaughlin, and new hires Kevin Sessions and Jeff Thalmayer.

Murphy said that Steamboat Springs Police Detective Ross Kelly, who also was a deputy coroner, recently left the post because of his increased work with the city.

Commissioners said they appreciate Murphy's service to the United States and that they wished him a safe trip.

"Is there any reason to run over there now they've got the big man?" Routt County Commissioner Dan Ellison asked, referring to the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Murphy replied that he's been asked that question a lot since Sunday, and that he thinks his help is needed now more than ever.

"The quicker we get them trained, the quicker we can get a democratic society over there, and the quicker we can get out of there," Murphy said.

The coroner is an elected county position, so no one will be voted into the position until the 2004 general election. For the interim period after Murphy leaves on Jan. 12, Routt County commissioners will appoint a coroner, just as they appointed Murphy.

County commissioners are just starting to advertise the position and plan to conduct interviews in the following weeks, commissioners said.

To qualify for the part-time position, which pays $25,000 a year, a candidate must be a registered voter who has lived in the county for at least a year.


-- To reach Susan Bacon, call 871-4203

or e-mail sbacon@steamboatpilot.com

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