A groundbreaking today in Ankeny for a new, nearly 52-million dollar state laboratory complex.The state’s building a new crime lab, a new morgue for the state Medical Examiner as well as new labs for the University of Iowa Hygenics Laboratory and the Department of Agriculture. Department General Service director Dick Haines says the current labs are overcrowded and inadequate.The state doesn’t have a morgue to perform autopsies, and it was difficult to recruit someone to take the job of State Medical Examiner. Dr. Julia Gooden signed on, with the promise a morgue would be built.Gooden performs autopsies in a Des Moines hospital today, and says she looks forward to having adequate space to work in — treating the deceased with “dignity and respect.”Gooden says the facility will better prepare the state for a mass-casualty disaster, an important consideration, she says, in light of concerns about terrorist attacks. Dr. Mary Gilchrist of the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory says their Des Moines-based testing site will move into the new facility.Gilchrist says nearly every citizen in the state will be impacted, at some time in their lives, by the tests conducted in the new facility. Deputy Ag Secretary Brent Halling says while lab technicians are getting the job done today in current facilities, there’s a need for more space and better climate control to preserve their work.Halling says in the world of today, when you don’t know if you’re going to have your head blown off when you open the mailbox, it’s even more important to have quick, state of the art labs available. Plans call for the 176-thousand-square-foot facility to be completed by the end of 2004. It will be built on the Des Moines Community College campus in Ankeny.
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