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Henderson council seeks input on cemetery rules

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Feb. 28, 2013 at 11 p.m.


HENDERSON - A plan to add new guidelines for headstones and grave decorations in a city cemetery was put on hold until residents have a chance to weigh in.

The Henderson City Council planned to amend the rules at this week's meeting but chose to table the item in order to get input and have more time to review the changes, Mayor Pat Brack said.

"There have been concerns about people erecting the gravestones that aren't in keeping with our guidelines or adding elements to the graves other than flowers, which some people feel detracts from the solemnity of site," Brack said.

An older section of the cemetery is only supposed to have flat gravestones for easier maintenance, Brack said. A new section allows for upright headstones.

"This is a public cemetery and we want to make sure the rules we adopt are what the people using it want, so we're encouraging people to contact us within the next couple of weeks if they have specific issues they'd like addressed in the regulations," she said.

Residents have until March 12 to comment at City Hall.

City Manager Mike Barrow said the rules are being updated to make them clearer for all to understand. The Cemetery Board approved the rules and no residents have commented thus far.

The cemetery contains about 14 acres maintained during winter by city crews and by contractors the rest of the time, Barrow said. The land was given by the Alford family in August 1933.

Trees, streets, sidewalks, leveling of graves, supervision and permits for work and burials, approval of designs of markers and monuments, removal of floral pieces left on graves after 48 hours, and cleaning up trash and debris is the responsibility of city crews year-round, he said.

"These crews have multiple tasks around the city, including maintenance and improvement projects at our parks and helping other work crews when necessary," Barrow said. "Last year, as we dedicated more attention to the maintenance of our parks and expansion and improvement of our parks. We recognized the need to handle more work, but not relax on our cemetery maintenance. "

In order to address the problem, the city chose to outsource cemetery maintenance. There are less costs to contract it out, Barrow said.

"The cemeteries were chosen over the parks because we knew that the grounds maintenance at the cemeteries could be scheduled and handled easier than the parks due to the need for flexibility that we have with easy scheduling," Barrow said. "Our city crews are to take care of immediate daily concerns that arise at our parks."

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