DECORATIONS … A sign stands at the entrance of the Riverside Cemetery in Superior Township. The sign states that all decorations are to be removed by April 1st.
By: Jacob Kessler
Numerous people have taken to social media to speak about a recent removal of decorations that took place at the Riverside Cemetery in Montpelier.
Posts mention that all of the decorations had been removed from the headstones “regardless of price or sentiment.”
They also mention that all of the shepherds hooks were removed including those that had been encased in cement and were in place for decades.
It was stated that some of the shepherds hooks were cut in order to facilitate their removal and that all of the other items were cleaned off and thrown away.
One post goes on to explain that there is a time in April where decorations have to be cleaned off by a certain time, but that these items had not been removed before in years past, with one such shepherd hook remaining in place for thirty years.
Many individuals also made comments expressing their frustration with both the sentimental cost of these items, as well as their physical cost, and that they had received no notice before the items were removed.
Superior Township Trustee Dave Apple explained that the cemetery has always had a sign posted at the entrance each year letting people know that decorations needed to be removed by a certain day.
This day is normally set for April 15th but was moved up to April 1st this year due to the grass growing faster than normal.
As for the issue regarding shepherd hooks, Mr. Apple explained that these too are considered decorations and that they were removed.
“If you drive in either gate a sign is there that says all decorations are to be removed by April 1st for clean-up, all decorations.”
“When they are not picked up, we get rid of them. Shepard hooks, they are a decoration, and they were picked up.”
Mr. Apple also explained that shepherds hooks will no longer be allowed at the cemetery due to a safety risk.
The hooks will either get caught or hit by the mower and have come back up and smacked the person mowing before, so the decision was made to remove them.
Around half a dozen or so of these hooks were placed in cement at the footer of the headstones. These were removed as well due to not wanting to keep some and telling others they were not able to have them.
“They are a decoration and there was a notice on the sign and in the Bryan Times that the clean-up was coming.”
“Either way you want to look at it, it’s also in the rules and regulations that say no decorations are to be in front or behind the stone. Many of them were and we pulled them all,” said Apple.
This explanation however has not helped to change what took place for some. Many people have made comments about these rules not being enforced for nearly 20 years with a previous caretaker.
Carol Herman makes frequent trips to the cemetery due to many family members being buried there. She has also had shepherd hooks removed that were cemented in-between the stones of loved one. These hooks were cut off and removed along with a lantern and other items.
“We all know that there is a sign at the entrance of the cemetery that says items have to be removed by a certain date, which was changed this year.”
“But they have never removed all of these personal items like this before in the past,” said Carol Herman.
She went on to explain that she had stones decorated with Red, White and Blue decorations due to those loved ones serving in the military.
She also explained that others had items that had never been removed before that were expensive in both their monetary value and sentimental value, with some items having been made by the loved one that had passed and cannot be replaced. Herman also stated that numerous smaller decorations were also not removed unlike others.
Apple stated that all of these items had been thrown away, and that it would have been hard to store that many items and keep track of who they belonged to.
He also noted that there are around 7,000 stones in the cemetery and that it would be very hard to get in contact with everyone for each stone due to changing contacting information.
A copy of the rules and regulations was also given to The Village Reporter and are dated August 30th, 1993, at the top.
Section VII states the following. “Planting of trees and shrubs are prohibited unless approved by the sexton. Flowers and wreaths may be placed above the grown and in line with markers and monuments (Not in front or back side of stones). No glass containers allowed.”
“All previous decorations must be removed by April 15th, (with the 5 marked over to signify the change this year) of each year or will be removed by the sexton. If your flowers are in violation of the above rules they will be removed from lot.”
“Cemetery is not responsible for decoration. Objectionable trees, shrubs, and plants will be removed by sexton or under his supervision when needed.”
Part of Section VIII also states that, “Changing of the Rules and Regulations can be made at any time without notice.”
Individuals have spoken on social media regarding their desire to attend a township meeting to ask questions.
According to the Williams County website for Superior Township, the meetings take place at 3:30 p.m. every other Monday at the township office at 10668 State Route 107, Montpelier, Ohio.
Jacob can be reached at email@example.com