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Posted on Apr 14, 2016

Grassroots group wants to see more improvements at cemetery

A community committee called Friends of the Quincy Cemetery has been formed from frustration over the maintenance of the local cemetery.
The grassroots group invites the public to its first meeting, which is at 7 p.m. on Monday at the Reiman-Simmons House.
Lisa Karstetter of Quincy is among a group of concerned citizens who started the committee. Karstetter, who works for Yahoo, was at the cemetery last week with a crew of volunteers from the data center. Volunteers were cleaning the cemetery, edging headstones and uncovering others where grass was overgrown.
Karstetter, in a guest column printed this week in this newspaper, wrote that she was more than dismayed at the condition of the cemetery.
“I want to start a dialogue on how to move forward, how to make long-term improvements to the cemetery,” she said. “It needs some TLC. It deserves that.”
Karstetter said there needs to be some coordination between the several groups that have been helping maintain the cemetery district on a voluntary basis. Groups have good intentions, but there’s been little improvement at the cemetery over the years, she said.
“Hopefully this group will be the change-maker,” Karstetter said.
The cemetery district is a small taxing district that employs a groundskeeper part time. The cemetery district has a cash balance of $532,893, according to information from the Grant County Treasurer’s Office.
Darryl Pheasant, county treasurer, said there are several small taxing districts in Grant County like the Quincy cemetery district that are carrying large sums of cash. However, no one seems to challenge these taxing districts on their plans for this money, Pheasant added.
Mike Scharbach, chairman of the three-member cemetery board, said there are plans in the works now for upgrades at the cemetery; however, that plan has not yet been determined. It may include pulling out dead arborvitaes, adding a wall on the east side or adding a shelter of some kind, he said. The Quincy Rotary Club is helping with design plans.
If the cemetery wants to raise money for special projects, it must run a maintenance and operations levy. The last time the district ran a special levy was in 2012 for $280,535.
Tax money has been used over the years to purchase maintenance equipment and build infrastructure, such as the office building and the sprinkler system, Scharbach said.
Scharbach, a member of the cemetery board for 18 years, said there’s much he would like to do at the cemetery, too. But it would have been nice if this new group had spoken with board commissioners, he added.
“There’s a lot that can be done out there, but it all takes a little bit of time,” Scharbach said.
Karstetter said she is not pointing fingers at anyone. She hopes those who attend the meeting on Monday are able to come up with a list of potential ideas or projects. She would like the group then to make an action plan from those ideas and approach the cemetery board commissioners.
She also would like to see the cemetery board be more transparent in its plans and its budget, Karstetter added.
“My letter is an open invitation for anyone who wants to be there,” she said. “It isn’t for people who are complaining. It’s for people who want to move forward.”


— By Jill FitzSimmones,