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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Dustin Miller named Deputy Coroner of Bates County

From Bates County Coroner Greg Mullinax

I’d like to share some observations and plans with you. As you know, the Coroner’s office is one of the smaller and less-visible county offices, but I feel it’s important that you know and understand the functions of this public office.

As hard as it is for me to believe, I am in my fifth year serving you as Coroner. When I was elected to this office in 2017, I made very few changes in the first years. I functioned in the existing system, budget, and resources as I began my service to you. I wanted plenty of time to pass before I felt I had a long view of the needs of this office going forward. Hasty change is never fruitful. Looking back now, I’m ready to make some fact-based observations and solid plans.

Simply put, the biggest change I have observed over the last for years is a steady rise in cases. In the first 1-2 years, I felt this could be temporary. However over the four years, cases have increased steadily each year. If I use last year, for example, total case load is up nearly 31% over four years ago. This year is on track to be the same; total cases are up 10% over this time last year.

Also, the needs of my office from law enforcement have increased. It is essential I supply them with requested reports and test results needed for their investigations and I must continue to do this in a timely fashion. Related to that, more and more of my time is spent in court-related proceedings where it’s necessary. Those matters must be dealt with as they arise and I amend my schedule to appear when I’m required.

One of the more emotional consequences of this, for me personally, is that I thrive on continuing education and each year I exceed the minimum required by law. As opportunities for additional good training have come up, I’ve not always been able to attend all I would like because of my case load and schedule - and, not being able to leave the County to attend. Also, during an investigation I am on occasion working through all hours of a night, and the schedule for the next day doesn’t change when that occurs. While I don’t mind this and years of experience has seasoned me to it, I’m mindful that rest and sleep are essential to my long-term functional ability.

Over the past four years I’ve kept track of these things and spent much time pondering how best to serve Bates County moving forward. I have had the conclusion for the last two years that I would make excellent use of a part-time Deputy Coroner.

Earlier this year I met with the County Commission as well as County Clerk and shared my observations and opinions. We discussed at length the function of this office and reviewed the data I mentioned above. Those officials agreed with my assessment and were pleased with the assistance a Deputy would provide.

I am therefore happy to announce that Dustin M. Miller has been hired as Deputy Coroner. For the past couple of months Dustin has been training alongside me; shadowing me on casework and investigations.

Dustin is a 1999 graduate from Rich Hill High School and has since settled down with a family and has proudly called Bates County home for the last 30 years. He started a career in the fire service as a volunteer firefighter with the Rich Hill Fire Department in 2000 and still serves there currently. Professionally, he has spent the last 14 years as a career Firefighter/Paramedic with the Belton Fire Department, having attended Penn Valley Metropolitan Community College where he studied Paramedicine where he obtained certification as a Paramedic in 2007. Since that time he has utilized his training to further serve the citizens of Bates County as a part-time Paramedic with Bates County Memorial Hospital.

Dustin says: “God has blessed me with so many opportunities, I am blessed that he has chosen me for this journey. It is an honor to have this opportunity to further serve and be an advocate for all of Bates County’s amazing communities. I will carry the badge of honor to its highest regard.”

Please extend a warm welcome to Dustin! He has been a tremendous and efficient help to my office already.

I have several other plans to continue to grow the office of Coroner in our County further into the type of agency our citizens and law enforcement deserve and expect. They’ve been gracious enough to talk with me over the past few years to indicate how I can serve them - and you - better, and I will do my best to make sure those goals are achieved.

I’m looking forward to sharing some more plans with you in the coming months. I’m addressing small and large-scale disaster planning, something that’s long needed an update. I’m also working to keep more investigative procedures in-house, here in our County. There are many strong advantages to this, and I’ll keep you posted as these goals are realized.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update. It is a privilege and honor to serve you to the best of my ability.
My best,
Greg D. Mullinax
Bates County Coroner