City earmarks $80,000 for cemetery improvements
Major improvements to the children's section of Greencastle's Forest Hill Cemetery and the addition of a section for cremated remains are included in an overall financial plan approved this week by the city council.
Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the city's Economic Development Income Tax (EDIT) plan, which includes $80,000 for the cemetery department for these projects.
Cemetery Superinten-dent Ernie Phillips is particularly excited about the improvements that will be made in the children's section. The cemetery opened the children's section in 2001, but there is nothing on the grounds to distinguish from the surrounding area.
Cemetery board members and Phillips are planning to install a picket fence around the children's section, in addition to planting attractive flowers and shrubs to help soften the area and make it more private for families visiting gravesites -- more like a memorial garden.
"It'll give a private place for parents to go and sit or whatever they want to do," Phillips said. "And it's going to be something that will enhance the beauty of the cemetery."
A second, major addition to the cemetery, next to the children's cemetery, will be columbariums. Similar to mausoleums, columbariums are freestanding structures that house cremated remains in urns, rather than caskets.
To start, the cemetery plans to install one columbarium, which Phillips says houses space for 112 different urns. They plan to add more columbariums as demand dictates.
Phillips said there is a growing trend among people to have their remains cremated, which is why they wanted to add the columbariums. He said that when he started working at the cemetery in 1989, there were about two cremations a year to handle. This year there were 19.
"To my knowledge, it will be the first of its kind in Putnam County," he said of the columbarium.
Phillips praised the council's decision to include the money for the cemetery because there is not enough money in his normal budget for such an expense. The cemetery department's annual budget is $250,000, according to Phillips, and it is used for salaries and general operations and maintenance at the cemetery.
"We don't have a big budget," he said.
Current plans call for most of the improvements at the cemetery to be made beginning in the spring of next year.
"We're trying to offer more options," Phillips said of the improvements.
In other business, the city council:
* Approved the second reading of ordinance 2007-31, amending the city's code for "no parking" zones. The two, and only two, amendments are as follows: Washington Street -- north side from Hammond Street 212 feet west; Washington Street -- north side from Percy Julian Dr. 1,175 feet west. Parking will be prohibited in those two areas.
* Approved resolution 2007-33, transfer of appropriations in the 2007 budget, totaling $51,911. The complete resolution is available for public viewing at city hall.
* Approved resolution 2007-32, authorizing encumbrances in the 2007 budget, totaling $223,421. These expenses will be carried over to next year's budget. Of this is $55,912 from the Cumulative Capital Fire Equipment Fund, $50,000 from the Rainy Day Fund and $100,000 in a donation from DePauw University, all to be put toward the refurbishing of the Greencastle Fire Department's aerial ladder truck. The complete resolution is available for public viewing at city hall.
In matters of the aerial fire truck, Fire Chief Bill Newgent told the council that repairs to the 1986 truck should be completed and the truck will be returned to Greencastle in January. This summer, the truck was taken to a company north of Indianapolis to be refurbished, which the fire chief says is less expensive than a new truck, which can cost upwards of $1 million. The fire department has been using a different ladder truck on loan while the other one is being refurbished.
The Greencastle City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month, at city hall.