Vol. III No. 15 8/1/2022
Notes from the Cemetery Commission, July 26, Hybrid meeting
- Karen Marshall, Chair
- Candice Currie, V Chair
- Pat Flinn
- Patrick White
- Terri Iemolini
- Michael Canales
- Roxanne McCaffrey
- Minutes approved as written.
- Chair asked Canales for updates on three issues: signs for cemetery, sewer line that runs through cemetery, and tree evaluation. Canales was not able to follow u on any. Chair asked if he could do by next meeting
- There has been progress on cemetery garage — thank you expressed to Hugh Page, Superintendent, Highway Dept
- Tour policy and application reviewed and voted on
- Add language telling application to submit to Cemetery Commission at Town email
- Change language — "Tours only allowed during open hours (hours when cemetery is open)"
- Vote: Policy and application approved as amended
- Post policy and application on Town web site
- White pointed out if was the first meeting after Town election, so, new chair should be elected. White nominated Marshall. Marshall nominated Currie as Vice Chair. Vote to approve.
- Phase one of cemetery maintenance: cleaning tomb stones
- Chair recommended training volunteers to reduce cost
- White recommended using professionals
- No vote taken
- Stones should be reset first and then cleaned — confirmed with consultant
- Planting Thyme
- White checked with landscaper, and it may be trickier than suspected; ask experienced landscaper to meeting to discuss
- Chair discouraged that idea — insisted thyme best idea — others agreed
- Canales — keep grass but buy "trimmer guards" to protect stones from string trimmers
- No vote
- Discussion about the complaint from a woman who thought the cemetery was not being maintained because the grass was being allowed to grow in oldest section. That was a decision made to protect the stones. Chair hoped signs would be put up explaining.
- There was a question about the Sergeant stones — will check with consultant
- The Chair wished to discuss the Bylaws — 1.1 Makeup of the Commission
- Right now, the Commission is 9 members — quorum 5 — and they are identified by position: Town Clerk, Highway Superintendent, Cemetery Consultant, rep from Laurel Hill, 3 SB members and 2 appointees by SB
- Chair wished to change it so that appointees are reduced to 5 appointed by SB and not identified by position.
- White said it was a matter of history and tradition that Laurel Hill was represented on Cemetery Commission
- Chair pushed back and asked: what do they bring to the table today? Further the Chair did not want the consultant of Town employees to vote. Further she was not pleased that the other 2 SB members do not attend
- White pointed out they both work and so a daytime meeting is difficult
- Again, the Chair pushed back and asked if she changed the time of meeting, would they attend?
- Finally White explained, and McCaffrey concurred, that Bylaw changes were made by the voters at Town meeting
- White explained that history and tradition matter
- McCaffrey said there was a reason for the original configuration — Clerk keeps the cemetery records, highway maintains cemetery, and consultant oversees burials
- Chair remained unconvinced and wanted new faces and fresh ideas
- Chair was sorry they did not have time to her second agenda item — green burials — but Canales told her to keep meetings to an hour.
- Chair wished to continue review of Bylaw and to recommend changes. She said it was Canales who wished this.
Editor's notes: 1. The Sergeant stones are the oldest in the cemetery. Reverend John Sergeant died in 1749. 2. Generally Bylaws are changed only if an error or problem arises. That problem or error is articulated and the least change to address it is made. The process is long and complex. It requires recommendation to SB, SB decision to place on it on Warrant, vote at Town Meeting, and if approved by voters (often 2/3 vote required), then review and approval by Mass Attorney General. "Old" bylaws are rarely construed as "out-of-date" but rather respected as rules that have successfully stood the test of time and governed well. The wholesale review of bylaws is a very new idea very recently occurring in Stockbridge. 3. This is not a complete report of the meeting. Repeating ad hominem attacks or denigrating our institutions is against SB policy. Go to CTSB for verbatim recording.
Photo: Lionel Delevingne