Committee to establish guidelines for cemeteries

Published 3:55 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The City of Jemison voted on Monday to establish guidelines for two cemeteries the city now owns at Pine Hill and Holly Grove.

Mayor Eddie Reed said during the meeting the city needed a resolution establishing the guidelines for the two cemeteries for maintenance of the properties.

Reed also appointed councilman George Brasher and councilman Sam Reed to be on a cemetery committee that would inform anyone wishing to be buried at the cemeteries about the cost for any unclaimed plot ($300 per site) and opening and closing a grave site performed by the city of Jemison.

Reed said he chose Sam Reed to be in charge of Holly Grove Cemetery due to Reed knowing the community and the history of the cemetery and he chose Brasher to serve over Pine Hill due to Brasher knowing specifics about Pine Hill’s area.

The committee will also be made up of several other individuals in the community with knowledge of the cemeteries including Janice Newman who Brasher nominated to work with him at Pine Hill and Carl Singleterry who will work with Sam Reed at Holly Grove.

In March, the city voted to set rates for the unclaimed lots at Pine Hill after learning in November of 2012 that Pine Hill Cemetery was property of the city.

After learning the city would now be responsible for the two cemeteries, the city could no longer give away unclaimed plots without compensation.

Anyone with burial plots already in the cemetery would not be required to pay anything toward the city but rates for remaining unclaimed lots would now go to the city.

A surveyor was hired by the city to come and survey the cemetery in 2009. The surveyor revealed the layout of the cemetery along with the names of everyone who was currently buried at the cemetery.

The layout was then laminated and placed at the city clerk’s office for anyone who owned the lots in the cemetery to come and identify them by marking their names on the list.

On Monday, Reed told the council that the guidelines would help as the city moved forward with cemetery ownership for any sort of question that might come up in the future.

“This will be a good set of guidelines for us to use in maintaining these two cemeteries,” Reed said.

Some of the guidelines include requiring the cemetery committee to make sure that the residents of Jemison and their immediate family members have burial rights on family owned plots as prescribed on the official cemetery plot map and must be claimed, that the committee identify all of the unclaimed grave locations at both cemeteries and be properly marked and made available for purchase to anyone interested in purchasing a plot for burial use and have the committee inform anyone wishing to be buried in the cemeteries of the fees established by the city of Jemison.

The rates established by the city were $300 for the remaining unclaimed lots and $150 to open and close a grave.

The resolution also states that if a family member requests the funeral home to open and close the funeral home will also have to pay $150.

Brasher said he is currently working along with Sam Reed to make sure all the plots are identified and has responded to more than 20 calls in the last month from people calling to claim plots.

“I have been talking to people from all over the United States who have family members buried in one of the cemeteries and they want to make sure they will be buried there as well,” Brasher said. “We want to make sure that everyone who has a plot in one of the cemeteries has a name on it.”

Brasher said he doesn’t think there is enough room in either cemetery for any new plots to be purchased and many of the current headstones have a rich history dating back before the 1900s.

“We are working to try to get all of the purchased plots in the cemetery identified,” Brasher said. “I was at Pine Hill this morning and the city had just mowed the grass and it looks good. We are going to work hard to keep the cemeteries that the city now owns maintained and looking nice for the community.”