Winnebago County looks at options for unclaimed bodiesOshkosh-area officials are looking at cremation and the donation of bodies to science as money-saving options for claiming unclaimed bodies.
By: The Associated Press, Superior Telegram
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — Oshkosh-area officials are looking at cremation and the donation of bodies to science as money-saving options for claiming unclaimed bodies.
Winnebago County's Judiciary and Public Safety Committee is considering an ordinance that would allow the county to cremate unclaimed or indigent bodies after seven days, rather than paying for burial. That is expected to save the county money as a burial plot typically costs about $500.
The ordinance includes a provision for burying bodies in criminal cases in which they might have to be exhumed for investigative purposes.
Winnebago County Coroner Barry Busby told the Oshkosh Northwestern that a couple of other alternatives for handling bodies also have turned up.
Catholic Cemeteries of Oshkosh, Inc., has offered to provide burial space in its cemeteries for bodies that require a traditional burial.
"Our commitment as Catholics means that we truly believe that we are all members of God's body," said Thomas Donovan, administrator of Catholic Cemeteries of Oshkosh, Inc. "As members, each person deserves to be properly buried, upon their death."
And the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh has offered to take some bodes for use in human anatomy courses. The university would otherwise pay $1,200 per cadaver for those it gets through the University of Wisconsin. It has five now that are all more than 10 years old, said Mary Seaman, a senior lecturer in the department of biology and microbiology.
If the county donated bodies, the university would pay for embalming, as well as eventual cremation, she said.
Fox Valley Technical College also has expressed interest, Busby said, adding that he would not pursue the cadaver option unless the Attorney General's Office said it was legal.
Most Wisconsin counties do not have ordinances addressing how to handle unclaimed bodies, Busby said.
"We're ahead of the 71 counties in the planning stage. We're opening the door," he said. "We're the first in the state to have this on the table."
Information from: Oshkosh Northwestern, http://www.thenorthwestern.com.