Rainy spring played havoc at cemetery
Some Memorial Day weekend visitors to Greenway Cemetery complained to The Morgan Messenger about the general condition of the grounds. In some places, the grass and weeds were three feet high.
Bath Mayor Susan Webster has also heard complaints.
“I understand some people have been complaining about the grass up there. I know the weather has been horrible with the rain. The weather hasn’t cooperated at all,” Webster said.
Greenway Cemetery is maintained by the tax-exempt Town of Bath Cemetery Management & Maintenance Corporation.
Rain, rain, more rain
“What we have been having problems with is all this rain.” said Irene Hedrick, president of the cemetery corporation board as well as Bath Town Recorder.
“We only have two
mowers and two people mowing and in a normal
season we can keep up with it. But with all the rain we have had this spring, it has taken three weeks just to mow the whole cemetery once,” she said.
Hedrick explained when
it is as wet as it has been this year, it’s dangerous to mow on the hillsides for fear of turning over a mower. Also, when the grass is too wet, you can’t mow because of the wear and tear on the equipment.
“I would hope the public would understand that,” she added.
So far this year, workers have only been able to
mow one or two days a week because of all the rainy days.
“This is the first week that we have been able to work all five days,” Hedrick said last week.
Workers have mowed the whole cemetery once and most of it twice except the hillsides twice. They continue to work on it.
A drive through Greenway Cemetery on Friday revealed that the east side of Greenway Drive was recently mowed while much of the west side of the cemetery was covered with high grass.
“With all the rain, the grass and weeds have just been growing too fast to keep up with. We should be caught up with mowing about the first of July,” she said.
Hedrick said she talked to the mayor about getting help from the town crew but with so few good days, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.
Webster said last Thursday that she would talk to Councilman Scott Merki, who chairs the town’s Public Works Committee, to see if the crew had time to lend a hand with mowing at the cemetery.
Hedrick said the corporation can’t afford to buy more riding mowers, hire more workers or pay overtime for weekend work.
“We are not completely out of money, but we are stressed for money. We are living frugally,” she said.
The corporation is mostly funded by the interest from a $150,000 perpetual care trust fund at CNB Bank.
The perpetual care fund was started in the late 1960s, but through the 1970s, people who bought grave sites only paid $50 for perpetual care.
Today, Hedrick said, more than half of the cost of each gravesite is put into the perpetual care fund.
“But we have only sold one grave site in the last year,” she said, since more people are opting for cremation these days because of the economy.
Other money comes from selling gravesites, fees for opening graves and an occasional donation. A cemetery lot for eight graves costs $3,800. It costs $748 to open a grave site for a coffin and $175 for a cremation, she said.
“We welcome donations and we get donations occasionally, but usually nothing big,” Hedrick said.
CNB Bank recently donated money to remove a dead tree from the cemetery, she said.
Due to the economy, falling interest rates and more people opting for cremation, operating funds have declined.
“We were unable to give our workers a pay raise this year,” Hedrick said.
Asked if the corporation ever takes money out of the perpetual care trust fund’s principal, Hedrick said, “Nobody has ever dipped into a dime of it. We are getting by on the interest and don’t touch the principal.”