Hinson challenges Lee in coroner election

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, July 27, 2011

NATCHEZ — The race for coroner may not be the most talked about election in Adams County, but anyone who has ever had to use the services of the office knows how important the job is.

Bill Hinson is challenging incumbent James Lee for the job, a position both men said requires people skills and a willingness to do the work.

Bill R. Hinson

Bill Hinson

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Hinson said he decided to run for coroner because he loves people, and he wanted to help out in any way he can.

“I have a gift for the public,” he said. “Through this job, I saw something I could use to deal with the people in the community, and use a ministry to help others out.”

Hinson has spent the past six years as an ambulance employee, and said he loves being able to help people out who are in need.

“I see hurting people and I just want to be there to comfort them,” he said. “I just feel the need to be there for the people, and I want to bring that to my office if I am elected coroner.”

Hinson said the experience he gained working for ambulance services and running and operating his own businesses make him qualified for the job.

“I have always worked with budgets, and I feel like I can trim the coroner’s budget to help save some money,” he said.

Hinson said while he has never worked as a coroner, he will do whatever it takes to serve the position to his best ability.

“I am open to any and all training that is offered, and I will even pay out of my own pocket to help with the costs if I have too,” he said. “I haven’t been a coroner, but people have to start somewhere, and so did (James Lee).”

Hinson said if he is elected, he plans on being personable and open to county residents.

“You should be on the scene within 30 minutes of something happening. The first priority is to be there quickly,” he said. “When you arrive there, you need to look at the scene and inspect everything closely, and then be able to work well with the officers and the firemen who are there.”

Hinson said he also has plans of starting up a program for grieving families in Adams County.

“I want to get with the local ministers and churches and create a list of people to talk to for help with grief,” he said. “I want to be able to offer the people something more.”

Hinson said he will stay fully committed to the job, and he will do whatever it takes to fulfill his duties.

James Lee

James Lee

Lee has been coroner in Adams County since 1999 and said he wants to continue serving so he can assist Adams County residents for the next four years.

“This job is helping people, and there is nothing I like better than helping people,” he said. “I am a people person, and this job really caters to that.”

Lee said his numerous qualifications and certifications include, military training, Mississippi State Crime Lab training, 14 years as a EMT-I, registered pharmacist experience, registered technician experience, certified respiratory therapist experience, mass fatality certification and a member of the state Disaster Mortuary Operations Response Team, show just how qualified he is for the position.

Lee said he is also certified as a police officer and is an instructor at the police academy in Hattiesburg, where he teaches future officers lessons on observing a death scene.

“I have the law enforcement training also, so I can get involved in this as best as I can,” he said. “I do all this so I can be the best qualified person for the job, and I know that with my experience, I am.”

Lee said the main duty of the coroner is to investigate deaths that are of interest to the public, but there are other job duties many don’t see the coroner do on a day-to-day basis.

Lee said testifying in court and assisting on autopsies whenever needed is also required, but one of the most important things is knowing when and when not to perform an autopsy.

“(Autopsies) can be very expensive, and we have to make sure we minimize what we spend in the county,” he said. “You have to know when and when not to do one based on state law, and if you do thing wrong it can cost some money.”

Lee said he has worked hard to improve the coroner’s office since first being elected.

“There wasn’t an office when I first started, and we were able to lobby for one,” he said. “We are also completely computerized, and we have a clerk in the office for eight hours a day.”

Lee said residents are able to visit the office to request death certificates, toxicology reports and any other form they may need, and the office even offers grief counseling to anyone needing it.

“This is open to anyone who has an unfortunate incident,” he said.

Lee said he will continue to do his best and use his experience to help Adams County if he is elected.