By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
MAD RIVER TOWNSHIP – The Mad River Township Board of Trustees have amended the Mad River Township Enon Cemetery Rules and Regulations in an effort to improve the daily appearance of the cemetery grounds.
Mad River Township Trustee Kathy Estep told residents attending the Monday, Dec. 5 township meeting that trustees had completed the amended document but could possibly make additional changes if needed.
The board reached a unanimous decision in September to review and update, as well as step up enforcement of the cemetery rules and regulations that have been in place for more than a decade. At that time, Township Trustee President Robert McClure Jr. told residents that some patrons of the cemetery were cluttering up the gravesites with a variety of decorations. He stated that a number of people had complained about the appearance of numerous gravesites and had expressed the desire for a neater, uncluttered cemetery.
“The trustees want to be respectful and considerate of those patrons who visit their loved ones’ gravesites, but it has become very difficult and time consuming for the cemetery sexton and the grounds crew to mow, trim and maintain the cemetery grounds,” McClure said. “It is a sensitive topic for some people, but it has got to a point where we must take action.”
Estep noted that many graves in the cemetery are decorated with everything from beer cans to a variety of trinkets. Some are more lavish yet, decked out with lights and baskets hanging from shepherd hooks.
“Certain decorations are unattractive and in some cases, dangerous,” Estep said. “Some of the cemetery staff has been injured by items that were hit by a mower of trimmer. Some items have also caused damage to township equipment.”
Township Trustee Joe Catanzaro pointed out that the township’s cemetery staff is small, and maintaining the gravesites and grounds is a challenge under the best conditions.
“Anytime there are decorations around a grave, the grounds crew has to stop and move the stuff to be able to mow and trim around the graves. Then, they have to put those things back where they once were,” Catanzaro said. “This has become labor intensive at the taxpayers’ expense.”
Estep explained that during mowing season, which falls between March 15 and Nov. 15, no decorations, with the exception of veteran’s flagstaff holders, are allowed to be placed on the ground or grass. All floral decorations must be securely placed on the headstone or in an approved flower container that is secured to the concrete slab that has been installed by cemetery personnel. Monument saddle arrangements are acceptable, but they need to be properly attached as well.
No boxes, shells, toys, metal designs, ornaments, chairs, vases, glass containers, plastic flowers, wires of any kind, wood or iron cases, glass and plastic blocks, lights of any kind, stuffed animals, toys, tin cans, crockery, waste baskets, pails, cardboard cartons, shepherd hooks, hanging baskets, candlelight holders and statues are allowed to be placed on gravesites at any time.
Special provisions will be made for holidays that take place during mowing season, such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day. However, decorations must be removed seven days after the holiday.
“Unfortunately, we don’t have anywhere to store these holiday decorations for people to retrieve at a later date,” Estep said. “The only option is to get rid of them.”
According to Estep, the cemetery staff will also continue to have the authority to remove any decorations of any kind from the gravesites if, in the judgment of the sexton, the decorations do not conform to the standards of the cemetery.
Winter decorations, such as holiday wreaths placed on easels and other artificial arrangements will be permitted from Nov. 15 to March 15. However, cemetery personnel will remove any decoration that becomes unsightly. All winter decorations will be removed March 15.
The township trustees also added a third section to Article II of the cemetery rules and regulations which pertains to interments in the cemetery columbarium. All cremated remains may be permanently memorialized in the columbarium for a cost of $1,000 per niche. The container for the cremated remains must first be approved by the township, and a maximum of two cremated remains will be allowed per niche. Each opening and closing of the niche will cost $450, and all engraving will cost $200.
Interment policies regarding burials, including cremated remains, will remain the same. However, township trustees approved increasing the fees for the opening and closing of graves and new gravesites in an effort to offset rising operation costs, according to Estep.
The trustees raised the standard weekday fee for opening and closing a grave for an adult to $900, which reflects a $300 increase. The opening and closing of an adult’s gravesite on Saturday will now cost $1,200, a cost increase of $350.
The weekday fee for opening and closing a grave for cremated remains increased from $250 to $600, and the fee for opening and closing a grave for cremated remains on Saturday increased from $450 to $900.
The cost of a grave space for residents will now cost $900, an increase of $300. A grave space for non-residents will cost $1,500, which also reflects a $300 increase.
The new price for a precast military foundation is $100. A concrete foundation will now cost patrons 60 cents per square inch.
“It has been many years since our rules and regulations have been updated,” Estep said. “Cemeteries are sacred places for many residents, and we take our responsibility of caring for the Enon cemetery very seriously.”
Linda Collins is a freelance reporter for Greene County News.