By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP — The Mad River Township Trustees are asking patrons visiting the Enon Cemetery to respect and adhere to the rules and regulations posted at the entrance.
Township Trustee President Robert McClure Jr. told residents attending the Sept. 19 meeting that the trustees are taking steps to improve the overall appearance of the township cemetery and would be reinforcing the rules and regulations that have been established for more than a decade.
“The trustees want to be respectful and considerate of those families and friends who visit their loved ones in the cemetery, but people are leaving a variety of items that are cluttering up the gravesites,” McClure said. “It has become difficult and time consuming for the sexton and cemetery personnel to mow, trim, and maintain the cemetery grounds. Some items are also falling over and damaging things.”
McClure noted that these items include, but are not limited to, shepherd’s hooks, lights, beer cans, pinwheels, and similar type of decorations, as well as flowers that are not attached to a marker or sitting on its concrete base that has been installed by cemetery personnel.
“We are asking people to pay attention to the rules listed and remove all decorations around the gravesites. All arrangements must be in an approved container attached to the marker or placed on its cement slab,” said McClure. “Monument saddle arrangements are acceptable, but they need to be attached properly.”
According to Mad River Township Cemetery Sexton Don O’Connor, patrons are allowed to decorate the gravesites on holidays that fall between March 15 and Nov. 15. However, decorations have been left at the gravesites long after the holidays have ended. Therefore, cemetery personnel are permitted to remove these items five days after those special events. O’Connor also stated that much of the ground clutter was located in section 7 of the cemetery.
“We have even been injured by some of the items when mowing and trimming around the gravesites, such as shepherds’ hooks and decorations that have been anchored by wire ground stakes. They have caused damage to our equipment too,” O’Connor said. “We just need to get back to enforcing the rules and regulations of the cemetery so we can better maintain its grounds.”
Mad River Township Trustee Joe Catanzaro also told residents that the trustees had closely observed the conditions of the gravesites for several months and had growing concerns about the overall appearance of the cemetery grounds.
“It is way out of hand now. Members of the public have told us that they want a cleaner, neater cemetery, but some people never come back to collect and remove their decorations. It has become tacky and labor intensive,” Catanzaro said. “We realize that visiting loved ones’ gravesites can be very emotional for some people, and they may not fully understand the rules. However, township trustees must maintain a clean and hazard-free environment and preserve our township’s cemetery grounds.”
McClure added that the trustees were “laying down the groundwork at this time” to reinforce the rules and regulations of the cemetery.
“I agree with Joe. It is a sensitive topic for some people, but it has got to a point where we must take action,” said McClure. “The manpower involve has become quite a challenge.”
The rules of the cemetery, planting of flowers, flowerpots, or bushy plants is strictly prohibited. No decorations, with the exception of veterans’ flagstaff holders, shall be placed in the ground or on the grass to allow for proper grave maintenance.
Cemetery personnel also have the right to remove all floral designs.
Winter decorations, such as natural wreaths placed on easels, artificial arrangements, and other approved arrangements will be permitted from Nov. 15 to March 15. Winter decorations will be removed when they become unsightly.
McClure also announced that township trustees would be raising the fees for opening and closing graves and for other labor. He noted that trustees would announce the new schedule of charges at the next township meeting.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.