• Stephen Peterson, Managing Editor

Council to revisit cemetery rules

MIDWAY - Mayor Grayson Vandegrift told the city council Tuesday that issues have arisen that make it necessary for the council to reconsider and possibly revise the rules for decorating gravesites in the city's cemetery. The council met Tuesday instead of Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Vandegrift noted that, over the years, permission has been given to some who have relatives buried there to use decorations that are not permissible under current rules. But he noted that the crew that maintains the cemetery told him that not all of the unpermitted decorations are necessarily bad and don't impede the crew's ability to mow around gravesites or perform other maintenance duties. However, Vandegrift said that allowing some people to violate those rules while others can't needs to be addressed, especially since people consider the sites where their relatives are buried to be "sacred ground." "We've got to put a stop to this," he said. "We just can't kick this can down the road anymore." In that light, Vandegrift presented a list of rule changes suggested by the cemetery crew that could solve some of those problems. Among the suggestions were: . Allowing the use of bark mulch, which is currently not allowed, but continuing to prohibit the use of pea gravel or chip gravel; . Extending the allowable distance around a headstone for flowers, mulch, bushes to something more reasonable as long as those decorations don't encroach on neighboring gravesites; . Allowing concrete flower pots for a certain length of time, with any wilted flowers being removed by the cemetery crew; . And allowing standards, supports, hangers, and brackets for flowers placed behind the headstone only. Wilted flowers from these would also be removed. The issue of benches and lights, which are currently prohibited but are also now present in the cemetery, should also be addressed, Vandegrift noted. The mayor handed the issue over to the council's cemetery committee for further consideration. Also headed to that committee is the issue of what to do with the old cemetery house. Bids were let to see if anyone was interested in demolishing or moving the structure, which the city no longer uses. No bids were received. Council member Sara Hicks was absent from the meeting because her mother was hospitalized with a serious illness.

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