Cemetery Board split on rules

Friday, April 29, 2011

Some Lewisburg Cemetery Board members don't seem to support rules they recommended last year and their chairman anticipates a 3-2 vote by the city council on May 10 to change rules on how graves may be decorated in city cemeteries.

"They bought the graves," Charlotte Foster said during a Tuesday afternoon meeting of the Cemetery Board in City Hall where about 80 people have, in recent months, attended public meetings on changing rules again. "They ought to have some say" on how they can be decorated.

Enforcement of rules adopted by city councilmen last year started this spring as mowing season began. Decorations were removed, bagged, tagged and placed in the city garage, available for collection by survivors who may have placed them at headstones, or over graves.

Councilman Ronald McRady, chairman of the Cemetery Board, has defended the new rules prohibiting chimes, wind socks or other decorations hung from shepherds' hooks; allowing only flowers. Other prohibitions include outlining graves so people might not walk over the dead.

Foster and two other Cemetery Board members, Ada Mae Webb and Judy Krezer, discussed the current rules after the Tuesday afternoon meeting and there seemed to be a consensus among them that what's in place now ought to be changed "to some extent."

They've received comments from residents and one told a member that "it's pathetic that we're having all this argument" over cemetery rules.

"I have gotten so many phone calls," Webb said.

Not all of the callers are angry.

"I'm not for putting a lot of things on the graves," she said.

Foster agreed.

McRady asked if the restriction wasn't just to flowers on shepherd hooks - usually wrought iron fixtures to hold something -- then "where would you stop?" Should wind chimes, or angels or "UT birdhouses" be allowed?

Webb responded: "I haven't had anybody say [anything about] UT birdhouses. They just want to place one to three items at the grave."

McRady and Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart have voted against changing the rules. Councilmen Odie Whitehead Jr. and Hershel Davis support Councilman Robin Minor's proposal to change the rules.

McRady predicts another 3-2 vote on May 10.

Meanwhile, McRady has issued a sign-up sheet for board members and others to indicate when they are willing to sit at a table over the Mother's Day weekend to receive contributions for continued maintenance of cemeteries.

Also during the meeting, Donny Hollingsworth asked the board to permit him to have a metal bench at his son's grave, a fixture that had been there for two decades until it was removed this spring.

His son, Little League baseball player Jonathan Hollingsworth, died 20 years ago. The Cal Ripken ball field is named for him. The boy died of a malady suffered at the field.