Niagara Gazette

Local News

May 21, 2013

Funeral director is named county coroner

Niagara Gazette — Lockport resident Michael A. Ross was appointed as a Niagara County coroner Tuesday.

Ross, a co-owner of the family-held Hamilton & Clark Funeral Home in Wilson and the Ross Funeral Home, Gaul Chapel, in Lockport, will serve as coroner for the fourth district through Dec. 31.

He'll run for election to the four-year position this year as well, on the Republican line, he said.

Ross was appointed in place of Richard Rutland, the Newfane funeral director who quit the coroner's post last month for personal reasons.

His appointment was confirmed by a 12-0 vote of Niagara County legislators, on a recommendation from a special hiring committee that interviewed four top applicants last week.

The job of coroners is to examine, identify and arrange transportation of bodies when there's been a death that's violent, suspicious or unattended. Coroners do not perform autopsies.

Ross, a third-generation funeral director with family roots in Akron, Gasport and Wilson, said he views the coroner's post as a "position of public trust."

"It's about making sure things get done in a timely fashion, for the families (of deceased persons) and funeral directors. It's something that goes hand-in-hand with funeral direction, and it's serving our community in a big way," he said.

The fourth district is composed of the towns of Newfane, Cambria, Wilson, Lewiston, Porter and Niagara. Coroners do not have to reside in the district they're covering.

In other business Tuesday, on an 8-4 vote, county lawmakers OK'd a "feel good" resolution inviting the Buffalo Bills to consider downtown Niagara Falls as a new home base in the future.

Co-author Jason Zona, D-Niagara Falls, said the resolution is in response to a news report several months ago suggesting Niagara Falls as an alternative to the Bills organization someday eyeing Toronto, where the team is now playing one "home" game per year. Sports fans worry that once team owner Ralph Wilson dies, the temptation for succeeding owner(s) to sell or relocate the franchise will be great.

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