Will serve as point of contact, create five-year plan

The City of Bloomfield’s Cemetery Board of Trustees held their first meeting March 31. The board was created by a city ordinance enacted on Feb. 18 for the purpose of managing the IOOF Cemetery and the Bloomfield (South) Cemetery.

Members of the board are Ron Henkenius (chairman), Jamie Warren (vice chairman), Larry Miller, Gary McConnell, Mark Warren, Jake Bohi, and Mayor Dan Wiegand. City Clerk Sandy Jones serves as secretary.

Henkenius said the Board of Trustees will benefit the community in several ways. “At present, no one knows who to talk to if there is a (cemetery) issue. Some people would rather talk to an individual than the city, and who knows the layout of the cemeteries better than funeral directors?” he asked. (Henkenius and Jamie Warren are both funeral directors.)

“There needs to be a point of contact,” he said, and invited the public to call his number, 641-208-6698, with any concerns.

Henkenius says the board will be responsible for creating a five-year plan, budgeting, and determining how the interest from the perpetual care fund will be utilized for the benefit of the city’s cemeteries.

“The city council can’t micromanage everything,” he said, “and people with an interest in the cemetery — such as those on the board — will be the movers in getting things done.”

One of the issues facing the Cemetery Board is monument care. Some of the monuments in the older sections of the cemetery are beginning to tip. While this is a family responsibility, Henkenius said in some cases there are no descendants to contact.

“Someone needs to walk row by row and check these,” he said. “There is money budgeted to repair another 50 or so monuments this summer.”

Burns Cemetery Service out of Missouri has provided this service in the past and will again this summer. Henkenius reported local individuals often contact the company and ask them to service family stones while they are in Bloomfield.

The committee briefly discussed the proposed exit road leading from the Hutchings Addition of the IOOF Cemetery onto Highway 63. The groundwork has been done by HR Green Engineering. “It’s just a matter of following up and moving forward,” Henkenius said. “We’re trying to get three people to submit sealed bids on the project; we want to try and keep everything local.”

The committee briefly discussed the need to plot more space in the IOOF Cemetery. “Monuments are getting larger; we may need to increase plot sizes,” Henkenius said. “In the Hutchings addition, the monuments are so close, if a mistake is made there is an issue.”

The city council will have to decide if the plotting would have to be completely done by a surveying crew or if city crews could do the job if four points of interest are established.

Looking into the future, the committee began a discussion on the burial of cremains.

“Today, we’re pretty much at 40% cremation nationwide. There are estimates that cremation percentages will rise to 70-80% in the next 10 years,” Henkenius said. “It’s here. More people are considering this.”

At the present time, the city allows the cremains of two individuals to be buried in one grave space, or a single person can be cremated and buried between other family members.

Henkenius said cremation is the final disposition of remains, and family members can take cremains home, bury them in the cemetery, scatter the ashes or put them in a columbarium.

Jamie Warren said families place cremains in an urn, an urn vault, or even a cardboard box.

Henkenius said columbariums for cremains are an option found in some cemeteries. A columbarium has 12” by 12” niches that hold two urns each.

Ossuaries are similar in concept, but they look like tall monuments with an opening. Velvet bags with cremains are placed inside the ossuary and nameplates are attached to the exterior of the monument.

The committee will further explore cremation options at future meetings.

A major responsibility of the Cemetery Board will be the appearance of the cemeteries. “Cemeteries should be peaceful looking areas,” Henkenius said. “Families spend a lot of time going there, and they should always look good.”