Discussion of cemetery rules may lead to new sign containing QR code – Newton Daily News

Joyce Heck, of Newton, approached the podium during last week’s City Council meeting holding the latest issue of “Get to Know Newton” magazine in her hand. In it she found an article telling residents about the cemetery rules, something she had never heard of, but they have been in place for several years.

“People have been buried in Newton Union for 35 years and I’ve never seen any bases,” Heck said. “If you’re going to have it, we need to know what it is. Also, I don’t think they’re all treated the same way. We had two things stolen from our in-laws – and they weren’t stolen – taken From the grave of our people.”

Heck later showed council members photos of various grave sites with several shepherd’s hooks and other objects nearby, indicating that other sites had been cleared and pointing out inconsistencies in rule enforcement. I also found some of the rules to be unreasonable, such as the maximum height of shepherd hooks of 42 inches.

A Newton resident also commented that the city does not allow artificial flowers, a claim that staff later disputed. The city does allow artificial flowers, but they must be placed in permanent containers on foundations, said Brian Loeb, director of community services.

According to the lengthy rules regarding floral decorations, flowers or bouquets will be removed when they become unsightly, and any flowers stuck in the ground are not allowed. However, Heck said she had “a lot of problems” with the current rules, which were later discussed in depth by council members.

Issues with cemetery rules are brought to the attention of city officials from time to time, Common Council member and supporter Randy Ervin said. A lot of the questions and concerns focus on consistency, Irvin said. Loeb welcomed the opportunity to discuss cemeteries and their rules, stressing that they are not new.

“These have been approved by previous city councils,” he said. “We are enforcing the existing rules. What these rules do is they provide ease of maintenance, trimming and mowing – just a neat, narrow cemetery. We are going through thousands and thousands of headstones and other obstructions.”

Loeb added that he receives very few complaints about mowers hitting headstones, damaging them and the like. For him, it is important to keep the rules in place and keep the decorative elements limited to facilitate maintenance. But Laub also acknowledged that the city is not immune to complaints from time to time.

“I will share with you that complaints that come through the City Council to the City Manager and then come back to me are most likely answered by a lot of compliments that employees receive when they’re out there working or complaints from citizens (saying): ‘Why don’t you implement this?'” he said. Rules enough?

Newton has two city-owned cemeteries: Newton Union Cemetery at 1601 W. Fourth Street N and Newton Memorial Park Cemetery at 2710 First Ave E. Typically, staff will clean cemeteries from the first full week of April through the first full week of April. The week of October, according to the city’s website.

The cemeteries are maintained by a mix of full-time and part-time employees, though the city relies on the latter, Loeb said. While Laub is aware of incidents in the past where some individuals became “a little hyper” or took something, he stressed to workers that when in doubt, ask a supervisor.

In response to another claim from Heck, Loeb said city employees don’t take the items. He saw that there were other people in public cemeteries who might steal items from time to time. When complaints arise, Laub believes staff does a good job of finding ways to enforce the rules and meet residents’ needs.

Irvin asked how successful the city has been in informing residents of cemetery rules. While the city tries to post on social media and send information to local media ahead of cleanup times, Loeb said the unfortunate truth is that the rules are rather long; The document available on the website is 14 pages long.

The rules are updated sparingly. Laub estimates that it has been about two or three years since the rules received minor changes. Any time a complaint or concern comes through the community services department, Laube discusses it among the staff and from there they decide if the rules need to be revised.

Councilwoman Vicki Wade asked if staff was coordinating with funeral homes and memorial companies around the area to help spread the message about the rules. They do, and in fact, any time employees suggest new changes, they contact those entities for input, Laub confirmed.

“We also talk to veterans groups in Jasper County quite often in a given year, and I will share that they have been big advocates for the stricter rules,” Loeb said.

They also like to see a polished tomb.

The city has also divided the rules into three sections — sign/memorial regulations, lot sales or transfers and floral decorations, plantings and other decorative items — to help make them more understandable. But because the rules are so comprehensive, it becomes difficult to post them on a banner.

If the city had a sign listing all the rules, Laub said it would be as big as the entire side of the maintenance shed. The city has basic, rudimentary sets of rules posted at cemeteries, but Loeb said staff is exploring different options such as adding a QR code.

However, Laub said a new signal with shortened rules could be helpful. The sign could include, for example, the 11 rules regarding floral decorations, plantings and other decorative items, which are posted on the city’s website. They are also the most insulting rules, Loeb noted.

Council members liked the idea of ​​a QR code and perhaps adding a new sign.

If you have any questions or concerns about cemetery rules, please contact the City Community Services Department at 641-792-7116.

    (tags for translation) Newton

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