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Last updated on Saturday, May 11, 2013
(BLOOMFIELD) - The Greene County Commissioners are in the process of establishing a County Cemetery Commission to look after small, neglected cemeteries.
Nick Schneider of the Greene County Daily World reports that the commissioners learned from attorney Marilyn Hartman that there is statutory basis for the county to establish an unpaid commission to help maintain cemeteries that are without funds or sources of money to maintain them.
State law also allows for a cemetery commission to be established if there are cemeteries that have suffered neglect and deterioration; may be burial grounds for an Indiana pioneer leader or veteran of an American war, including the Revolutionary War; and either was established before 1875 or is a burial ground for a veteran of the Civil War.
The commissioners are authorized to appoint a cemetery commission of five residents who are appointed for a term of five years.
"They would have authority over abandoned cemeteries throughout the county," Commissioner's President Rick Graves said. "I think this is probably a good idea. I guess the first step that I would suggest that we contact the Trustee's Association and see what their input is. They currently take care of the cemeteries and see if we can get a feel from them if this is something that would help them."
Commissioners Ed Michael and Nathan Abrams suggested soliciting help from the Greene County Historical Society in finding potential commission members.
Last month, the commissioners heard from Dennis Smith, who explained that his great-great-great-great-grandfather was David Daniel Wesner, a soldier in the American Revolution who is buried at Slinkard Cemetery in Cass Township, near Newberry. When Smith went to do some research at the small cemetery, he found it was in need of some maintenance and repairs. He brought his concerns to the commissioners and Graves acknowledged it got him to thinking about what can be done to help take care of these kinds of cemeteries.
According to Hartman, a county cemetery commission may request the levy of an annual tax for the purpose of restoring and maintaining more or more cemeteries. The tax rate may not exceed 50 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation of property.
Among the possible activities of the commission could include putting fence up around a cemetery, removing vegetation, leveling ground and re-seeding with grass and re-setting gravestones.
The commissioners took no action on an ordinance that would establish the cemetery commission, but said the matter will be brought back for action after commission members are solicited.
Anyone interested in serving on the commission is asked to contact any of the three commissioners.
"It would be fantastic if we could find five individuals throughout the county who would be willing to serve (on the cemetery commission)," Graves added.
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