By Julie Ann Madden
People upset about flowers and other memorial items being removed from their loved ones’ graves at Riverside Cemetery have learned who the culprits were.
It was the Portland Township Trustees’ decision.
According to Trustee Jim Dennison, people decorating graves need to read the signs posted at the cemetery’s three entrances.
It states that all items, not permanently secured must be removed within seven days after Memorial Day, he told The Akron Hometowner. In addition, all monuments and items placed in the cemetery must be approved by the trustees beforehand.
This year, the trustees “cracked down” on the rules, and removed all flowers and items not permanently secured including shepherd’s crooks.
This included flowers stuck in vases which are secured to the tombstones, said Dennison, explaining flowers often aren’t permanently secured in the vases and the wind blows them out of the vases.
The sexton has to pick these up and there’s no way of knowing which graves the items come from, he said.
“We’ve neglected to enforce this for several years,” said Dennison. “The yard was looking junky — it didn’t look nice because of all the things there. We try to make the yard look nice.”
When asked how people could make changes to the rules, Dennison responded, “It’s really not up to the people (who buy lots there).”
“It’s up to the trustees to maintain it,” he said. “The taxpayers in Portland Township pay for the maintenance.”
“As the trustees, we have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the township to use those funds wisely,” said Dennison. “When it gets to be a burden, we have to do what we do.”
“Obviously, maintenance is a big issue when you have 26 acres to mow,” said Dennison, adding the cemetery responsibility continues to grow as there are 15 to 25 burials there a year. “It’s up to us to maintain it.”
“It’s always a challenge to satisfy everyone,” he said.
Those wanting their shepherd’s crooks may get them from the pile by the shed in the cemetery, said Dennison.
The Portland Township Trustees are Dennison, John Dirks and Tom Miller. Dan Rexwinkel is the trustees’ board secretary.
“We decorate our graves year-round,” said one person who wished to remain anonymous. “We purposely bought a tombstone with vases and we secure our flower arrangements in them but our flowers were taken. We’ve been doing it this way for nearly two decades.”
“It looks so empty out there,” the person said. “It’s so sad.”