Former Howard County Council member and Coroner Jeff Stout’s contribution to the county will not soon be forgotten. Officials held a dedication ceremony for the Jeff Stout Government Center Oct. 5 to conclude renovations to the former Howard County Government Center and commemorate Stout’s impact.
“It is absolutely appropriate to dedicate this building in his honor,” County Commissioner Paul Wyman said.
Wyman outlined Stout’s contributions to the community, particularly during his 19 years on the county council and the eight years he spent as county coroner. Wyman said Stout advocated for many of the updates to the county building and was constantly trying to help the community.
“He loved us,” Wyman said. “That was something he did extraordinarily well.”
Stout’s brother, Marty, said that while Stout was an extraordinary man, it is important not to think of him as superhuman. He said his brother leveraged and shared strengths, and people should follow that example.
“We can’t hug like he hugged,” Marty Stout said. “He did a lot of things extraordinarily well. We have to share, and hug, and smile, and listen, just like Jeff did. Maybe today it serves as a challenge to all of us.”
The Jeff Stout Government Center’s recent upgrades include new paint, a new sidewalk, and accessible ramps. Stout’s biggest projects, however, were centered on his longtime work for the county.
The morgue inside the Jeff Stout Government Center was one of Stout’s last projects. Marty said Stout always believed the morgue should be a place of great dignity and comfort, and he worked hard to create that reality.
When Stout first started working as a coroner, the morgue was located in the basement of Howard Community Hospital. It had no cooler, and people would have to travel extensively between the morgue and funeral homes.
Now the morgue is located in the government center. It has state of the art equipment, an upgraded cooler, and plenty of space.
Stout’s son, Jeff Jr., commonly known as Junior, said the building is functional and discreet. The morgue used to house about 30 bodies a year in the 1990s, but Junior said the current morgue houses between 250 and 300 bodies a year now. The new morgue gives people more space and privacy.
Another upgrade to the morgue is negative airflow that was made possible through COVID-19 funding. Tami Stout, Jeff’s wife, said she knows Stout would be happy that current Howard County Coroner Steve Seele has great equipment.
“This is a project Jeff started, and he’d be so happy to see it completed,” Tami Stout said. “He’d be so honored they named it after him.”