Representatives of Morgan County’s cemeteries are inviting the public to a special meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss needs in the regions cemeteries.
Chairman of the meeting, John Buchanan, hopes to raise awareness of the current and future challenges cemeteries face. Buchanan says that smaller cemeteries deal with common hurdles of state inspections, audits, and new legislation as well as the more imminent challenges with maintenance costs and aging volunteers who care for and manage them.
Buchanan says he hopes the meeting will spark ideas among those who are involved and interested in the region’s cemeteries. He says the need is urgent: “We’d like to look at the problems all of us face in management of cemeteries. For many of the cemeteries, it’s a lack of funding. We’re always worrying about if grass gets cut and stones keep in repair. It’s very important if you have a loved one in a cemetery that once you enter that cemetery, it is much different than going into other cemeteries. It’s a special place, and you hope and pray that it continues to be cared for through the years. Where are we going to find the people to do that in years to come? and How are we and do we need to be organized as a group of cemeteries to address sometimes the needless legislation coming down from the State of Illinois? I don’t know, but I am going to try to share a discussion and have folks share their feelings and their thoughts.”
Buchanan says one of the major hurdles is finding young people to volunteer for cemetery boards or to become sextons. He says it’s mainly because of the commitment that goes with the charge of caring for a cemetery: “There are very few young people that one – can make a time commitment because burials are typically during the day-time hours and if you’ve got a full-time job. Then, obviously, you can’t leave in a moment’s notice and meet with a family and sell a grave space or mark a grave space for the grave digger that’s coming in and that kind of situation. It’s very awkward in getting young people. There are some people that are interested but they just simply don’t have the time. And, quite honestly, there is a lot of young people out there that don’t have the commitment. That needs to be changed in some form. What the solution is, I’m not sure there is one right now.”
The public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 9th at 4PM in the Commission Room on the second floor of the Jacksonville Municipal Building located at 200 West Douglas Avenue in Jacksonville. If you have further questions, you may contact John Buchanan at 217-320-4048.