May 28, 2014 — Olive Hill funeral director William Waddell ousted Grayson funeral director George Sparks from the position of Carter County coroner in last week’s Democratic primary election.
The final vote tally was Waddell 1,987 and Sparks 1,662.
With no Republican filed for the November election, Waddell will take office in January for a four-year term.
Sparks was seeking a fifth term in the position.
“Nobody really wanted this job when I took it in 1999 and I said at the time that I would keep it as long as the voters wanted me,” Sparks said. “I got my answer last Tuesday.”
He added that he appreciated the opportunity to serve for 16 years and that he is grateful for the support he received from county residents.
The new coroner-elect said of the election results:
“We worked hard and my wife, Viola, was our best campaigner. I’m thankful for all of the help I received from others,” he stated.
Waddell, who first tried to unseat Sparks in 2002, says he is looking forward to serving as coroner.
He says he plans on taking a different approach to the office.
“I just want to make everyone feel like they are part of the family and receive the same kind of good treatment they expect,” Waddell said.
Sparks has held the position since 1995. He has been a licensed funeral director since 1978 and has owned Sparks Funeral Home since 1977.
Waddell has been a licensed funeral director since 2003. He has owned Globe Funeral Chapel for 15 years.
The new coroner-elect is married and the father of four children.
All Kentucky coroners and deputy coroners who are not physicians are required to complete a 40-hour basic death investigation course administered by the Kentucky Department of Criminal Justice Training at Eastern Kentucky University.
In addition, a coroner is expected to enroll each year in 18 hours of continuing education.
Waddell says he plans to enroll in the state training as soon as it becomes available.
Unlike most states, Kentucky does not require that a coroner be a physician or be trained in forensic medicine in order to seek the office.
Kentucky reportedly is the only state that recognizes a coroner as a peace officer with full arrest power and the right to bear arms.