Follow Up Meeting Called to Discuss Possible Rural Cemetery Alliance

By Jeremy Coumbes on June 20, 2023 at 10:36am

A movement to spurred on by the growing problems faced by rural cemeteries is gaining enough traction that another meeting has been called for this week.

Local funeral director and Ebenezer Cemetery Board member John Buchanan was pleasantly surprised when more than 60 people crammed into the Commission Room at the Jacksonville Municipal Building in early March to talk about common problems cemetery boards are facing.

Issues such as the aging of cemetery governance, government regulations, fees, funding, and maintenance were all discussed.

Buchanan says since that first meeting, members of cemetery boards across three counties have expressed interest in joining together in some form. “We’ve asked folks to voice their opinion and we’ve gotten several of those back. Not from everyone but, it’s obvious that they are wanting to go toward a looser affiliation at this time, and we’re going to look at organizing a rural cemetery alliance, or association, or district, whatever you want to call it, in West Central Illinois.

We found out that there are folks who are having the exact same problems that we are here. It spreads to Cass County, and Scott County, and to Greene County- all around. So we’ve decided to open it up to everyone who would like to take part.”

The follow up meeting will take place this Thursday evening at 7:00 pm in the chapel at the Buchanan and Cody Funeral Home in Jacksonville.

Buchanan says it will offer more space for as many who would like to attend can do so. He says the movement to combine efforts is fledgling, but well supported according to feedback he’s received.

He says the plan for the next meeting is to figure out the plan for moving the effort forward. “I’ve put together a sample design for an organization, and then I want the people that are there at the meeting to make the final decisions about what is going to be most appropriate for them and what do they think will be accomplished.

Quite honestly I think it has some merit and it’s going to take some work to get it on it’s feet but I think we can do this pretty well.”

Buchanan says the group will likely have to develop a set of rules and regulations and set up a board and steering committee to get the organization up and running.

He says he would also like to see it work toward non-profit status so it can receive funding via memorial donations and other philanthropic means. However, he says all of those issues and more should be decided by the group as a whole.

The follow-up meeting for the effort to support rural cemeteries is set for 7:00 pm at the Buchanan and Cody Funeral Home on Lincoln Avenue in Jacksonville this Thursday.

Buchanan says anyone interested in supporting the small rural cemeteries is welcome to attend.