Letter: More concerns about the cemetery

Dear Editor:
I have had the opportunity to work for the local mortuaries in Meeker for the past 10 years. This puts me in the position to have a close relationship with the cemetery here in Meeker. I have recently retired but I am not willing to remain quiet about things going on at our cemetery. I have had the honor of working with Art and Lila Cox during most of the time I have worked in funeral services. They have both devoted their time, love and passion to making our community cemetery one of the best kept in the country. This is something that the town should be very proud of. Losing them is a grave disservice to our community.
In the past few months, there have been some startling changes within the Cemetery District Board, resulting in some very sad and disturbing changes at the cemetery. I do not understand how the decisions are being made in operation of the cemetery and I am very concerned about the integrity and decision-making ability of the current board. I thought that the board was made up of a broad base of members of the community that represented the best interest of the entire community. The changes and decisions being made in the past few months have not been made in the best interest of the community, many have not even been voted on by the board, and I am unable to determine how the three remaining members could be making decisions from the broad spectrum of our community, when two of the three should not be voting at all due to conflict of interest.
There is a large amount of our tax dollars at work to keep the cemetery maintained and beautiful. Up to this point, you only had to visit there to see that those resources have not been wasted. The equipment is expensive and occasionally has to be repaired or replaced. The cemetery has been enlarged and the upkeep of the grounds is a constant need. It is not an easy job. It requires a certain level of expertise, dedication and hard work from the people who are entrusted to the care of the grounds.
Mike Jones has been working under Art Cox to learn how to take care of the cemetery when Mr. Cox was ready to retire. However, there was no reason to get rid of Mr. Cox until he was ready to retire. In my experience, Mike Jones is very capable. This is not a criticism of him.
Mrs. Cox spent an inordinate amount of time clearing up and correcting the records of the cemetery that had been in error for decades. She also maintained the records, processes, procedures and bylaws. We have heard thru the Herald and the attorney “retained” by the remaining board members that apparently there are no bylaws. Where did they go?
Mrs. Cox spent several weeks training someone to take her place in order to assure a continuity of service to our community. That person has now been let go. In fact, I believe that the board made it so difficult for her; it nearly became a hostile work environment situation. Having people who know what to do, how to operate the equipment and how to help care for the deceased during a funeral is very important. One small slip up can create a horrible long-lasting trauma for family and friends. Although I am sure the person who now has that job is very capable, she has no previous experience and no training. She is being set up by the board for a very difficult path. I wish her luck.
Not only did the current board get rid of Mr. Cox, they also got rid of the one board member who held the historical knowledge of working on the board and the cemetery, Bill Jordan. I am very upset with the performance of this board, I contest their ability to serve our community and make decisions regarding the use of our tax dollars. The decisions they are making do not appear to be in the best interest of our community. Does the board have the right to do things without a quorum, without a board discussion and without a vote? Where are the minutes of the meetings? When and by whom were all of these decisions made?
I believe that because this board manages tax revenues, they fall under the Sunshine Law. When were the open meetings to make decisions about the rocks around the flagpole? Do the county commissioners know what is going on? It appears that there are two board members making a majority of the decisions, without following any rules of order, policies, procedures or bylaws. It has been suggested that there is a need for budget cuts etc. What has changed in our funding that justifies the fairly dramatic loss of our beloved keeper? Who is responsible for the actions of this “board”? How are the hiring and supervision decisions being made? What are the qualifications of the new hires? As this group serves the community, where is the information stored and posted for public review? Do they have any experience in running a cemetery? As a community, I urge each of you to seek out information. This is our community, we need to speak out, stay involved and hold those people spending our tax dollars accountable.
Sue Kirkham
Meeker