Friday, January 30, 2009

Bibb County, Ga.: Beyond the headlines

I've done a little Web searching about the efforts to ban green cemeteries in Bibb County, Georgia, via the commissioners' ill-conceived and ill-advised amendments to their cemetery code. Here's a sampling of what I've found.
First, we have some eloquent comments from author Mark Harris, who helped turn me on to the subject of cemeteries when he was interviewed on NPR's "Fresh Air," and I was searching for a topic for my Land Use class.
In his letter to the commissioners, Harris references an endorsement of the Summerland Natural Cemetery from the Funeral Consumers Alliance's executive director, Joshua Slocum.
The also has a summary from it's Atlanta political blogger, Perry B. Goodfriend. Frankly, he raises a good point (whether he did it intentionally or otherwise might be open to debate that the Wall Street Journal article takes note that such a cemetery would be utilized by " 'old hippies,' penny pinchers, environmentalists and Muslims -- who traditionally bury the dead without caskets." I read right over that; or at least it didn't register to me how stinging - snarky?! - the comment is.
Here is a piece from April 2008 in which the county Zoning and Planning Commission gave its initial approval. Since this was OK'd before the county commissioners amended the cemetery code, this leads me to wonder whether Summerland is grandfathered in. Stay tuned.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Birds, birders invade Northeast Ohio cemeteries

An unprecedented "invasion" of white-winged crossbills has birdwatchers flocking to area cemeteries that host large selections of mature pine, spruce, fir and hemlock trees. Taking full advantage is Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, which is even hosting nature walks.

Tyler, Texas, takes over cemetery

The city government in Tyler, Texas, declared an old cemetery abandoned, and took it over. It will now enter an agreement with St. Louis Baptist Church to maintain the grounds.

Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta plans fundraiser

Efforts are under way to restore landscaping at the historic Oakland Cemetery, which was damaged by a tornado in March 2008, and officials will hold a fundraiser to help defray costs.

Massachusetts cemetery feeling budget squeeze

The Westlawn Cemetery in Littleton, Massachusetts, is running in the red, drawing concerns from the local government.

North Carolina veterans cemetery closer to becoming a reality

Officials in Snow Hill, in eastern North Carolina, say they look favorably at a plan to provide a veterans cemetery. The town has a 59-acre plot of ground the town bought in 1996 with the idea of turning it into a cemetery.

Quaker cemetery disturbed in Nantucket

Authorities were exploring the possibility of creating a bike path, but workers digging at the site discovered what others already knew -- that the site was home to a Quaker burial ground.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Funds released for Hawaii project

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle released more than $1 million in funds to improve the state Veterans Cemetery. The project is part of a $1.87 billion economic stimulus project to improve the infrastructure.

New Orleans cemetery undergoing restoration

The Chalmette National Cemetery, which was damaged during Hurricane Katrina, is closed for restoration. The National Park Service says the restoration project will cost an estimated $7 million.

Cemetery plan hit by opposition in Las Vegas

Residents in a section of Las Vegas are upset at a proposed cemetery plan, saying it will hurt property values, and will be too close to homes and the local high school. More to come on this story as it develops.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Update on Soldotna, Alaska, seeking site for cemetery

Residents' and voters' opposition has knocked down plans for a cemetery in Soldotna, Alaska, and so officials in the town are continuing their search to find a site to locate a cemetery. Here's another article on the same subject, as the new year and new government begins. Here is the first time we brought you this story. And here is a 2002 proposal by the town's cemetery committee.

Arizona cemetery on National Register

The Fry Pioneer Cemetery, a small cemetery featuring some of the early settlers of Sierra Vista, Arizona, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Georgia cemetery wants to be tourist draw

The 150-year-old West Hill Cemetery in Dalton, Ga., is taking steps to become a draw for history buffs and other tourists. The final resting place for such folks as poet Robert Loveman and noted gospel songwriter A.J. Showalter is creating a walking tour of the cemetery and working with Whitfield County to become part of the larger historic panorama of the area.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dog walking in the cemetery

This is an enjoyable piece about the joys of walking the dog at the cemetery. This is the trackback link ... not sure if it will work.

Bibb County, Ga., debate goes on

Pay no attention to the headline of this article, because from what I can tell, the debate is still raging. Both sides of the debate about a green cemetery continue to spar, and now, there is talk of banning green burials in other counties, according to this article:

The Twiggs County Commission already is in the process of adopting changes
to its own cemetery ordinance that would prohibit green burials.
“If this was happening in Bibb, then the next logical thing was Twiggs would be a
prime place to try this effort again,” Twiggs County Commission Chairman Ray
Bennett said.

Expansion eyed at Michigan cemetery

Lake Forest Cemetery still has some land available for plots, but officials say it is becoming increasingly difficult to find spots together for families, so they are looking into expanding the cemetery. The map comes courtesy of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Alabama town seeks help in managing cemetery

The city of Jemison has managed the Pine Hill Cemetery for more than 30 years, but is now asking the public for help about who is buried there, how much land is available for burials, etc.
My recommendation is for the town to communicate with a local college or university to see whether geography/anthropology students would be interested in working on a group project.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Work at historic LA cemetery

Preservationists are trying to restore the famous Marquez Cemetery in Los Angeles, which dates back to the late 1840s

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Green burial an option in Utah

Memorial Cemeteries and Mortuaries is the first company in Utah to offer natural burials.

Mining company wants to surface-mine at West Virginia cemetery site

The Patriot Mining Company wants to relocate a Methodist church cemetery in Monongalia County, West Virginia, moving 22 graves in order to surface-mine at the location. So far, only eight people have signed consent forms to move their ancestors' remains; a hearing is set for Feb. 18 in Monongalia County Circuit Court on the matter. We will try to stay tuned for future developments

Financial woes at Fresno's oldest cemetery?

A report at a California TV station site details the circumstances at Mountain View Cemetery in Fresno, Calif., the city's oldest graveyard. The cemetery is nearly full, but operators say they need more funding to keep the cemetery running. They are proposing to close down a road in a section of the cemetery and use that for more graves. The decision is now in the hands of a judge.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Land dispute in New Jersey

Middlesex County, N.J., had plans in the 1970s to widen a road near a church cemetery. As compensation for taking the land, the city of Perth Amboy supposedly gave land to the church. The road project never advance, and now that the church wants to subdivide its property, the sides are locked in a dispute about who owns what.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

East Hampton, N.Y., community wants to improve care for cemeteries

Government officials are eager to better maintain the existing cemeteries and expand cemetery space in this 360-year-old town. The planning department last year looked into which parcels of land could be used to establish new cemeteries.

Dozens turn out for Bibb County, Ga., hearing

About 40 people attended a county commissioners meeting to voice their opinions on an ordinance that forbids a natural cemetery.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Maryland cemetery custodian retiring

The Baltimore Sun has a feature story about the retiring custodian of the Green Mount Cemetery. This link includes video.

Friday, January 2, 2009

More on Bibb County, Georgia's opposition to a natural cemetery

The Wall Street Journal has a lengthy story about the misguided opposition to plans for a natural cemetery. Well, the paper doesn't come right out and label the opposition misguided, but, folks, it is. Among the irrational fears is that of water contamination. They don't realize that their waters are probably more polluted from people who flush their pharmaceuticals down the toilet than from the way folks have been buried all over the world for all but the last 150 years.
It's understandable that conventional funeral providers might be skittish about losing business to green burial, but ignorance of the laws of nature -- ashes to ashes and dust to dust -- has no place in the 21st century. And the forward-thinking funeral providers are considering green burial among their services.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Georgia thieves steal 200 vases

Police are urged to step up night patrols after 200 vases were stolen from a Stone Mountain Cemetery. They are used to hold flower trips and are worth about $250 each.