Wednesday, May 25, 2011
On 23 May 2011, I attended a presentation given to the public at the Council on Aging in the lower level of the Town Hall in Stow, titled "Rest in Peace" given by Rob Gledhill, the Cemetery Supervisor of Stow. It was about pre-planning for your final resting place. I learned some valuable information and asked a few questions.
The audience all knew each other and as I was wearing one of my "Cemetery Cravings" tshirts and carrying my "gravestone groupie" notebooks, I was immediately noticed. People were friendly and were interested in my work and the information in general. I took three pages of notes.
Mr. Gledill, who has studied some of the Native American and Asian philosophies, explainted the four stages of life, which are "birth", "growth", "decline" and "death" before explaining the current Massachusetts and town laws for burial in the cemetery. He explained that the cemetery lot is 4 x 8 and holds one "full burial" (which is the full body casket) or 6 cremations. At the present time, that costs $600. When purchased you get a deed for the plot. Only residents of Stow may purchase a plot.
Of course, that doesn't include the "opening cost" of preparing for a weekday or Saturday burial. Being buried on Saturday costs more. The cost is for the backhoe to opening the ground. Employees are paid by the town or city and don't get more pay for Saturday burials. Part of the money paid for the plot includes what we call perpetual care for upkeep of the grass and plantings.
I also learned that in Massachusetts, the veteran's organizations, assisted by the local Scout troops have fresh American flags on the vet's grave for Memorial Day. This is state law and must be done yearly in May.
A plot, if not used by family in 75 years can be resold to someone else by the town cemetery committee and research is done to try to find out who owns it and any local relatives found.
Most interesting is the ground penetrating radar, rented at a cost of $1,200 for 7 hours to locate unmarked burials and to find out if the ground is usable for burial. It is all about finding usable land of burial without disturbing the present burials. The cost of everything has gone up in recent times. Much of the money collected for plots goes into the "general fund" of the town and is not actually used by the cemetery committee itself.
It was a very interesting talk. I did confirm that it is OK to take photos here and pick up trash while in the cemetery here. Respectful behavior is expected.
It was a lovely hour with nice townspeople. Alyson Toole, the COA Director, was friendly and welcomed me to Stow.