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Lake Dem caucus makes it official — Frey first woman coroner

Merillee Frey candidate for Lake County Coroner. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media









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Merillee Frey, candidate for Lake County Coroner. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media ptmet

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Updated: October 17, 2012 6:45AM



HAMMOND — Lake County’s first woman coroner vowed Saturday to keep the lines of communication open and establish a community outreach program.

Merrilee D. Frey accepted the position Saturday morning at the Hammond Civic Center after a 104-0 vote during a Democratic caucus.

Frey, who ran uncontested, replaces Thomas Philpot, who was convicted last month of mail fraud and of theft for taking bonuses from a federal child support fund while he served as Lake County clerk.

Frey will finish Philpot’s term which runs through next year. She’s also the Democratic coroner candidate on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. She’s opposed by Republican Dr. Andy Koultourides, a Munster dentist and Munster town councilman.

Surrounded by her family, Frey said she’s a “blessed person” and intends to provide diligence and professionalism to the office to bring justice to violent-crime victims and their families. She said she’ll also work to address the county’s high infant- and child-mortality rates, and accidental drug overdoses.

“The Lake County coroner’s office is more than an institution for forensics. It is an institution that can make a difference through community outreach,” she said.

Frey, of Crown Point, who’s been a nurse for more than 25 years, planned to move in and get started Saturday after having lunch with her family.

“I’ve already announced a mandatory meeting with our staff and will finish adding the finishing touches on our strategic plan,” she said. “Right away, we’re going to implement training on blood-borne pathogens and professionalism in the workplace.”

Former Coroner David Pastrick said he’s been working with Frey and feels she’s on target with her goals. He said she’s pursuing accreditation from the Association of Medical Examiners, something he tried to do during his tenure.

“I think the office will be in great hands,” he said.

Lake County Democratic Chairman and Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. commended the caucus for bringing more voters for an uncontested race than the Lake County Republicans bring to a contested one.



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