Cemetery district discusses drought plan, allowing dogs

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MEEKER | At the July meeting of the Meeker Cemetery District board, board members discussed how to maintain the lawns at the cemetery in the midst of severe drought conditions, including extending the hours of part-time (32-hour a week) employees to 40 hours.

“I don’t see that they need to, unless something breaks down,” said board member Melinda Parker. “I think just keep it alive this year. I don’t think they’re going to be able to keep it green-green this year.” Parker said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the current conditions at the cemetery.

The board agreed to allow part-time employees to add up to eight hours per week to their schedules as needed, as long as they don’t go over 40 hours.

Board members also continued a discussion about the district’s policy on dogs.

As per board instruction, office manager Vanessa Trout contacted multiple cemeteries around the state to see what their policies look like. She came back with three findings:

1. Cemeteries with “no dogs allowed” signs have to be vigilant about enforcement, to the point of photographing license plates and turning people in.

2. If service dogs are allowed, they have to be registered, requiring cemetery staff to check paperwork.

3. Cemeteries that allow dogs have many issues. “It’s a complete nightmare,” Trout said.

Parker, who is named in a lawsuit against the Meeker Housing Authority board regarding the use of “emotional support animals” said after checking with her attorney, “We really need to allow the [service] dog.”

“Service dogs have papers; comfort dogs are a whole different thing. People are abusing this, how are we going to handle it?” Asked board president Joe Conrado.

“I don’t have a problem with responsible dog owners, but they’re not going to do that,” Jones said.

“But that’s not the law anymore,” Parker countered. “We were told what we did at the housing authority was all right by an attorney, and then we got hit with a $1 million lawsuit.”

The board agreed to postpone the discussion until the August meeting, and asked staff to see if someone from the town could tell them how they could enforce a policy.

Noise Ordinance

Conrado said he was approached about using pylons to let people know there’s a funeral in progress, and expressed concerns about noise from trucks coming down the road.

The town of Meeker has a noise ordinance, but the road that runs behind the cemetery is a county road. Conrado asked Trout to get on the agenda with the commissioners to request installation of “something like a quiet zone sign” near the cemetery. “We’ll pay for the signs if they’ll install them,” Conrado said.

Staff Updates

The board accepted its annual audit.

Jones said they’re having problems with the irrigation system. “We’ve never run into this before,” he said. “They’re calling it slime, but it’s not the same algae that’s in the river.”

Trout and Jones both said the district was exceptionally busy in June, with three burials and six cremains.

Board Discussion

Conrado said he “might have overstepped” his boundaries by telling the fire department not to do the usual pre-burns around the cemetery prior to the Fourth of July, saying it would put a bad reflection on us (the board) if a fire resulted from the pre-burn.

“They’ve always had a back burn, so if there is a fire up here they can get it under control,” Jones said.

Conrado and Parker moved that fire not be allowed in the cemetery in the future.