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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Need Repair-At the November 9 Riverside Cemetery Association meeting there was a lot of discussion on the condition of the roads around the cemetery. The board would like to designate a percentage of Columbarium funds for a cemetery road fund. Also donations can be accepted by the Cemetery Association. Top Photo; John Garon, sexton for the cemetery is pictured near the front entrance of the cemetery with some of the holes in the blacktop. Jim Felker is also pictured looking over road deterioration. Bottom Photo; John Garon and Jim Felker are pictured at the site of the new Columbariums. Board members will be finalizing prices soon for the new Columbariums.

Cemetery Board Hears Road, Mower Issues

Issue Date: November 18, 2020

At the Peshtigo Riverside Cemetery Association meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, President Mike Swiatnicki thanked the committee for the work they have been doing.

Swiatnicki said, "The last three or four months I have been extremely happy and proud of the performance of the committee, board, trustee members, Sexton and assistant grounds keeper. I want to thank everybody for everything they have done. Member Kathy Crabtree echoed Swiatnicki's thank you and added, "It takes a team to get things done"

In her Treasurers report, Nancy Holtzberger commented, "We really need to focus on getting the cemetery roads addressed. If concrete is cheaper than blacktop then we need to get quotes on concrete and try to secure donations as well. I requested a budget increase from the City of Peshtigo from a budget of $48,000 for 2020 to $52,800 for 2021. I propose that we set aside a goal to address the roads and put aside a percentage of each burial to go towards a roads fund".

Sexton John Garon announced there were 37 burials so far this year, two or three coming in, one full and two more cremations. There were 23 grave sales, seven prepaid burials, 28 full burials and nine cremations.

Garon also reported the poor condition of the lawnmower with over 500 hours on it and the bagger is shot. We won't get another year out of the lawnmower. He also stated the backhoe is 20 plus years old and he will be bringing to the City repairman to see if they can fix it over the winter months. Swiatnicki said he will talk to Public Works Director George Cowell to go through the backhoe for needed repairs.

Secretary Sally Witak then made a motion to have the Facility/ Operations committee get bids for a commercial industrial lawnmower that will last longer than three years and the motion was unanimously approved to go forward with bid requests.

In committee reports, Swiatnicki stated Olson Electric put in the meter base and pedestal and Wisconsin Public Service will be trenching a new line. Olson will be finishing up his work for the season soon.

Personnel, Vice President Lois Walters thanked Jim Felker for coming in later in the season to help out. Felker then said, "I don't know how much longer I will be able to do the job. I will help with the winter burials and probably late May the latest. I like doing the work and if I can help I will, I am up for that. I just don't want to be coming to you last minute and tell you I can't do the job anymore".

Crabtree added, "Unfortunately we were unable to get jail workers this year with COVID-19". Garon added, "We will be getting jail workers again after the COVID is over".

The Forestry committee report, Swiatnicki said, "I would like to look into trimming more dead trees from the Cemetery". Holtzberger replied, "The 2020 budget was at $2,000 but we asked for an additional $1,000 for $3,000 in 2021, but will try to keep it to the $2,000 for this year".

Walters then gave an update stating the Columbariums were delivered and the cement slabs were put in on Tuesday, Nov. 2. "There is still a lot of work to do as a committee including pricing, landscaping and many decisions to make", Walters said.

Swiatnicki added, "We need to look at landscaping idea options, something that is low maintenance with possible benches by the Veterans area". Walters added, "Any donations are welcome for benches, flowers, bushes or anything that will help to beautify the cemetery".

In public comment, Felker commented "The electrical work is atrocious and something is going to happen if something isn't done with the electrical". Swiatnicki replied, "Not all of it will be tackled at once, but we are working on it".

In unfinished business, Swiatnicki discussed the unsatisfactory repairs to the mausoleum roof. "The work was far from satisfactory. I met with the former owner of the company that did the work and they did do some repairs but it still leaks. I will try to work out a resolution with the owner of the roofing company".

A motion was made to not pay the bill to the roofing company and look for a resolution from the company for them to repair correctly and if not it should be bid out to another company.

Walters asked, "Why bother to give them extra time? Everything they have done has been disappointing, why give them another chance? Let's not pay them, move on and get someone else to do the job".

Swiatnicki responded, "We will get Attorney Dave Spangenberg involved to draft a legal document". Audience member Mike Garon said, "Send a letter out as soon as possible, dot the i's and cross the t's ". Swiatnicki replied, "Lets get this resolved soon enough so we can go out for bids". A motion was then made and approved for Swiatnicki to discuss with Spangenberg to find out the steps to proceed in ending the contract with the roofing company and get specs out for bids with other roofing companies.

Many items were discussed under new business, including wages, setting prices of Cremation Columbarium Niches, approval of 2021 budget, requests for buybacks of gravesites, designating funds to a road fund and a list of 2021 meeting dates.

After reconvening from closed session for discussion of wages, benefits and duties of the Sexton/ Groundskeeper and Assistant Groundskeeper, it was agreed to increase both positions an additional $.50 cents per hour effective Jan. 1, 2021.

The 2021 budget was tabled until a later date pending further updates on pricing structure of the Columbariums and what the City is going to contribute to the 2021 budget.

There was a lot of discussion regarding a request made to the cemetery to buy back a gravesite. Swiatnicki stated at present we allow the buy back of graves at the rate it was purchased and we re-sell at the current rate. There was concern by some members of too many angles involved and is it by a case by case basis or open to everyone. A motion was made and approved to ask the person questioning to submit in writing before the board as to why they want to sell the gravesite and at that time the board will consider the buy back request.

After purchasing the Columbariums, the Board has a lot of decisions to make, planning to do and discussions to have. Member Amber Polzin did research on other communities and she commented, there is a lot of things we didn't take into consideration.

Many questions and comments were tossed around including, sizes of the plates, which Polzin replied, Military size is 8-1/2 H x 5-1/2 W and other sizes are 12-1/2" H x 14-1/2" W.; Font type and size has to be determined along with what to charge for services and the niche and opening of the niche for a second burial; Should engraving be included or an extra charge?; plans for a brochure; With the ability of having two urns in one niche, we are tentatively looking at selling as we do any gravesite, sell the spot and when opening up the niche to have another charge for opening.

Swiatnicki commented, "I would like to see the monument company or local funeral home do the engraving". Mike Garon added, "You need to define the rules. What if someone requests a Niche burial in the middle of winter, you need to think about the process being a little different than before, You need to walk through the area and determine the process" Polzin added, "We have to have everything in place". Polzin, Swiatnicki and Walters all echoed the comment of having a lot to do and talk about and the importance of having everything in place before they start the process". Holtzberger stated, "This was a time sensitive situation with the Columbariums being available at a good cost and with the timing of bad weather arriving soon".

Swiatnicki commented the need to schedule a meeting to discuss all of these concerns. A motion was then made and approved for the cremation group to have a special meeting and then bring the results back to a special meeting at the Jan. 11, 2021 meeting.

The last item of the evening was to discuss designating funds for the cemetery road fund. It was discussed at a prior meeting when talking about the Columbariums that the cemetery could take a percentage to go into a road funds account. Secretary Sally Witak asked, "Would it be feasible to set aside 10% towards the fund from the Columbarium sales"? It was also brought up to also set aside a certain percentage of grave sales as well to go into the road fund. It was mentioned that grave sales through the end of October was $15,300 and if 15% were set aside, the amount would be $1,500 towards the fund. At present there is $3,623 in the road donation fund.

A suggestion was made to set aside a percentage of both grave and columbarium sales be set aside into the road fund. It can be put in a separate CD with the goal of not touching that fund for anything but roads but is there if absolutely needed for something else. The board tabled for further discussion at the January meeting after the budget is approved when they will have a better handle on their financials.

Meeting dates for 2021 will be held on Mondays of Jan. 11, March 8, May 10, July 12, Sept. 20 and Nov. 8. The annual meeting will be held on Monday, Jan. 11 beginning at 5:30 p.m., followed by the regular board meeting.


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