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Our Opinion: City cemetery board would help maintain decorum

Our Opinion: City cemetery board would help maintain decorum

May 5th, 2011 in News

As resting places, cemeteries deserve respect and decorum.

Cemeteries traditionally are overseen by boards of directors that insist the maintenance, operation and uses reflect those values.

Jefferson City government is considering re-establishing a board to oversee its three municipally owned cemeteries - Old City, Woodland and Longview. Members of the proposed five-person board would serve three-year terms.

We favor the concept, particularly because we believe such a board would attract members dedicated to the upkeep and preservation of these integral, historic assets of our city.

Old City Cemetery, 1000 E. McCarty St., dates to 1826; its neighbor, Woodland Cemetery at 1022 E. McCarty, traces its origin to 1837. The graves include early state dignitaries, members of the city's founding families and both Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers.

Longview Cemetery, located across town at 204 Scott Station Road, is newer by comparison - it dates to 1922 - but also is a rich resource in Jefferson City history.

Although city staff is responsible for overseeing the cemeteries and the contractors who maintain them, resources have proven insufficient.

In addition to recurring problems with vandalism, accumulations of litter and debris also have been apparent. The neglect reached a low last August when a human jawbone was unearthed - apparently by a groundhog - at Old City Cemetery.

Some local historians have been known to avoid the sites because they have encountered conditions both deplorable and embarrassing.

We believe a cemetery board would help alleviate the strain on city staff and benefit our community.

Jefferson City benefits from the time, energy and expertise of more than 20 citizen advisory boards.

We believe a new board comprised of interested, civic-minded residents would serve to monitor municipal cemeteries, identify problems and recommended action.

The greater goal is to restore dignity and decorum to city-owned cemeteries, both for the people buried there and for the entire community.