Cemetery commission considers columbarium

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The possibility of a columbarium rose from the ashes at the Eureka Springs Cemetery Commission meeting last Wednesday.

Secretary and treasurer Bob Thomas suggested that the Old Simmons Road Site in the Eureka Springs Cemetery could become the site of a columbarium, a room or building used to store funeral urns. He said he is the only one who has purchased plots in the Old Simmons Road Site and he would be willing to move to a different area if the commission wanted to keep it open.

“The Old Simmons Road Site was closed off by a previous commission,” he said. “It’s a nice open site, and, if we decided to keep it open for a possible columbarium, I would be willing to move.”

Thomas suggested the commissioners could visit the site soon to see if they wanted to keep the piece of property open for a potential columbarium in the future. The commission voted to approve a moratorium on sales at the Old Simmons Road Site until a decision is made.

Also at the meeting, Thomas updated the commission on providing cemetery staff with credit cards for minor purchases.

“We will actually get four cards. There will be one with each of the officers’ names on it and one for the head groundskeeper,” he said. “The parks department keeps all those cards in the office, and, when someone wants to use their card, they can check it out and bring it back with a receipt.”

Since the head groundskeeper is an employee, Thomas said the commission could put a limit on the card. The commission decided to authorize expenditures of up to $100 for the head groundskeeper. Expenditures of more than $100 and up to $500 must be approved by the cemetery superintendent, and expenditures over $500 must be approved by the commission.

The commission also discussed future planning for the cemetery, returning to the possibility of hiring a full-time employee who would serve as the superintendent, the primary groundskeeper and the cemetery sexton.

Cemetery superintendent and commission chairwoman Susan Tharp asked if the commission wanted to have the head groundskeeper adopt the new roles or have the new position and an assistant groundskeeper.

“There are pros and cons to both,” she said. “The pro of having one person do it all is that you would only be dealing with one person. The con is you might not always find someone that organized.”

She said there had previously been a position similar to the one they were discussing under past commissions.

“Supposedly, it was difficult for one person to do all that, but that person did not have an assistant groundskeeper helping,” Tharp said. “I think having the two groundskeepers really helps with the maintenance out there.”

Commissioner Steven “Yip” Vorbeck asked if it would help to work up a job description of the proposed position before it is submitted to the city council.

“It would help, but it’s always going to come down to the funding,” Thomas said. “We actually have three different job descriptions we could just put together.”

Assistant secretary and treasurer David Sallee said the commission needs to decide how much funding they are looking at to create the new position.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 21, at the Auditorium.

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