Funds requested to hire Cemetery Commission Treasurer

  • The Petersham Cemetery Commission oversaw the renovation of the little building known as the “Hearse House” in Petersham’s center village cemetery in 2016. It was built in 1889 for receiving and holding bodies in winter months. A new roof substructure, slate shingle roof, stone work and a refurbished iron door were completed. ATHOL DAILY NEWS FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, February 19, 2018

PETERSHAM –The need for a part-time Cemetery Commission treasurer was conveyed by Chairman Lynn Shaw during a joint budget review meeting with the Selectmen and Advisory Finance Committee Tuesday night.

Shaw estimates $720 would cover the expense, with the employee working 5 hours per month at a rate of $12 per hour. Ann Townsend, the current Commission treasurer, is leaving the post.

The treasurer handles plot sales, figure out the lot dimensions, see that the sexton and groundskeeper are paid, and keep records up to date.

Shaw said town secretary Sherry Berube, who has already been helping the sexton with the records, is willing to take the position. “There is already some interaction there,” said Shaw.

Fredrik Marsh, selectmen’s clerk, said he didn’t think $720 is enough to cover the work that needs to be done, and that a treasurer has to be bonded, which costs $100 per year.

Ross France FinCom Chairman, asked whether the town’s “floating secretary” could be used an hour or so a week to cover the work. Shaw preferred the dedicated position.

A new line item requested is $3,000 for ongoing maintenance. The town has nine cemeteries, and Shaw, who has chaired the Commission for the last 3-4 years, said the funds will only go so far. She noted a lot of work has backed up, such as tombstone repair, which the commission hopes to get to this summer, and repair of a gate at the Williams Cemetery on East Street. This is one of the least active cemeteries. Brush that has grown up around the walls also needs to be cleared.

Up to this point, the Commission has completed a number of projects using grant funds and private donations, including the restoration of the Hearse House a few years ago, a project to build a wall at the West Road Cemetery, fence repair at the East Street Cemetery and erection of a railing at the Goddard Cemetery on Hardwick Road.

“There are only so many times you can go out and ask someone to give,” said Shaw, referring to private donations. So it was decided to request a regular line item of $3,000 to address the repairs that crop up.

The Cemetery Commission budget in FY18 is $300.

Selectmen chair Nancy Allen commended the commission for their work.

Commission members include: Shaw, GlenedeAlbertine (clerk), Ken Levine, Debra Bachrach, Sheila Youd and Barbara Hanno.

Allen noted the care of cemeteries contract with Barnes Landscaping, the lowest bidder, has been set at $20,985 for the next three years, FY19-FY21 (up slightly from the present contract of $20,523.)

All comments were taken under advisement.

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