Mowing is woe-ing for cemetery board

LISBON — The village cemetery board is again seeking some help with the mowing.

Board President Barry James attended this week’s council meeting to present the cemetery’s annual report for 2018 and to also request some additional help. The cemetery has one full-time and one part-time employee to keep up with maintenance and perform burials, and council has usually been able to provide more help during mowing season, especially in the weeks leading up to Memorial Day.

The cemetery has usually received help in the past, whether it be help from other village departments, or free labor from inmates from the federal prison in Elkton, participants in the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program, or those performing community service as part of a court sentence. James said the quality varies, depending on the person, but they are grateful for whatever help they can get.

Street supervisor Jim Oliver indicated he might be able to spare an employee to help mow, especially prior to Memorial Day.

“We just can’t afford to hire (another) full-time worker at the cemetery. Our finances just don’t permit that,” James told council. “We try to do the best with what we can.”

The annual report showed the cemetery generated $55,758 in income last year from burials, cremations, and graves and columbarium spaces sold. The was down $5,000 from 2017, but it still represented the third highest total in the past 14 years. The board’s other major source of revenue is $64,500 generated by a cemetery levy.

More people are opting for cremation due to the costs, and last year there were a record 26 cremations. Meanwhile, the number of traditional burials continues to drop, with a record low 29 recorded in 2018. The number of graves sold was up significantly, 53, compared to 21 in 2017.

In response to th cremation trend, the cemetery board purchased a 48-unit columbarium in 2015 — a mini-mausoleum of sorts where cremated remains can be interred. Sixteen spaces have been sold in the columbarium since then.

In other action at this week’s meeting, Fiscal Officer Tracey Wonner, who serves as council clerk, reported they still do not know whether switching to LED lights in 2017 is saving the village money. Council hired Hercules LED of Boardman to switch some of the village lights over to LEDs for $49,993 based on an estimated savings.

Councilman Peter Wilson said the electric bills seem to be higher, and Wonner said the problem is the bills they receive from Ohio Edison do not spell out usage. She said the good news is they are still receiving a significantly reduced rate that dates back to the town square project undertaken nearly 20 years ago.