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|Eldridge new coroner|
Dr. Joel Eldridge has taken office as Franklin Parish's new coroner; Clerk of Court Ann Johnson swore him in on March 17.
Eldridge was unopposed in the fall 2007 election, taking over the position from Dr. Charles Reed, who was coroner for many years.
"Dr. Reed called and told me he had decided to step down and asked if I was interested," Eldridge said. "I'm from here and I wanted to do something to give back to the community."
Eldridge is a native of Crowville – where he lives now – and graduated from Crowville High School in 1979. His parents were the late J.L. Eldridge and the late Audrey Eldridge Fox.
He obtained a bachelor's of science degree from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, formerly Northeast Louisiana University, and when on to receive his doctor of osteopathy from Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo. Eldridge is also an EMT.
Eldridge moved home to Franklin Parish in 1991 and was in private practice for five years. He is currently an emergency room physician at Franklin Medical Center.
As coroner, Eldridge is responsible for determining the cause of death for all accidental deaths in the parish or deaths which occur outside of a hospital.
"The coroner is the health officer for the parish," Eldridge. "Actually it is the second highest position in the parish. If the sheriff becomes ill or dies in office, the coroner assumes the role of sheriff until an election can be held."
Noting that the coroner's position in small rural parishes is different from those of larger parishes, Eldridge said there is no coroner's facility or staff.
"We don't have an office or anything like CSI," Eldridge said. "Any forensic investigations or autopsies are sent to Little Rock."
The coroner is paid by the state on a per-case basis, and is not funded by Franklin Parish.
"It's not a high-paying job or one that is glamorous, but it is one that must be done and I want to serve the people of the parish," Eldridge said.
"I'd like to thank Dr. Reed and his staff for his many years of service. He's going to help me during the transition and will be on-call if I am out of town," Eldridge said.