Cemetery Board reorganized

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Mayor Barbara Woods has reorganized Lewisburg's Cemetery Board and changed other panel memberships since the city's May election and in the wake of public concern over grave decoration rules.

Angie Binkley, Betty Ann Ogilvie, and Councilmen Robin Minor and Odie Whitehead Jr. were appointed by Woods to join the panel that also includes Public Works Director Kenny Ring, Woods said Friday afternoon.

Councilman Ronald McRady, who had been chairman of the Cemetery Board, is succeeded by Minor and Whitehead, the mayor said, describing them as the panel's liaisons to the council.

"They were so interested in the cemetery that I thought it would be an appropriate place for them," Woods said.

More than a year ago, the Cemetery Board forwarded to the council a new set of rules regarding what could and could not be placed at a grave. The council unanimously approved the new rules. Implementation began as mowing season started this year, thereby raising concern with regard to Decoration Day, traditionally Mother's Day in Lewisburg-owned cemeteries. Minor and Whitehead led efforts to repeal some rules opposed by a majority of residents expressing their opinions at City Hall and in a Marshall County Tribune online poll. During public discussions, Woods took the position that excessive grave decorations detracted from the dignity of a cemetery as well as obstructing a clear path for lawnmowers.

Woods was asked about her position in contrast to those of Minor and Whitehead.

"If I was going to load it up with people who want what I want, I certainly wouldn't have put Robin and Odie there," the mayor said.

Judy Kreuzer and Betty Bigger are continuing as members of the Cemetery Board.

Ida Mae Webb and Charlotte Foster have been thanked for their service, but their membership on the Cemetery Board has ended.

"It wasn't anything that they had done, " Woods said. Webb and Foster served the city well, but the mayor decided changes were needed.

"Angie Binkley asked to be on the board," Woods said. "I have no idea on her opinion about grave decorations.

"Betty Ann Ogilvie ageed to be on the board," Woods said. "She came to the meetings and was concerned. She did say she liked it cleaned up. She'd been here all her life.

"It's a board," Woods said to emphasize majority rule for such panels. "It's not a one-person thing."

The public works director's membership on the Cemetery Board was created this spring, Woods said, explaining, "It's the public works director who is ultimately responsible for cemetery maintenance," although Ring does not mow the grass at the cemetery.

"He asked," Woods said. "He said, 'If there's going to be a change, I need to be there."

Contacted early this week, Whitehead reported, "The new board will meet on June 28 at 4 p.m. for an organizational meeting."

Whitehead has observed some of the Cemetery Board meetings.

"It will be a completely new board for me," he said. "I have no agenda but to meet with the board. Everybody has ideas and opinions. We'll proceed from there."

Having been removed from the Cemetery Board, McRady was moved to the Gas Board to succeed Quinn Brandon Stewart who did not run for re-election because she's moving from Ward 1 to have a larger yard for her young daughter.

The Rev. Steve Thomas, the city's newly elected councilman, was appointed to the Lewisburg Electric Board where he succeeds Minor.

Stewart has been on Lewisburg's Tree Board and she may continue as a city resident, Woods said. The panel was created to qualify Lewisburg as a designated Tree City.

Designation as a part of the Tree City USA program makes municipalities qualified to apply for financial assistance for development.