Last updated: July 07. 2014 6:42PM - 425 Views
By Ilene Haluska ihaluska@civitasmedia.com

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GREENVILLE - The Greenville City Council recently nominated and approved Fourth Ward Councilman John Baumgardner to the Greenville Union Cemetery Board during a joint annual meeting between the council and the cemetery board at the City Council Room.

The purpose of the meeting is to elect a three-year-trustee to the Greenville Union Cemetery Board, explained Greenville City Council President John Burkett. Burkett sat in the gallery for the meeting, because he is president of the council and said he doesn’t vote on such matters.

“This year there will be two city council members,” Burkett said. “We elect them in mid year and they take office in Jan. 1 2015 and they serve a three-year period,” he said. They are the board of directors for the Greenville Union Cemetery as a joint venture between the township and the city of Greenville.

The board alternates every year a new cemetery board member who represents the Greenville Township or the city council. Next summer a township member will be nominated for Councilman Tracy Tryon’s spot on the Cemetery Board.

Current members are Councilman Tryon, and Greenville Township Trustee Ron Klosterman, whose term ends Dec. 31, 2014, and Trustee Justin Hines of the Greenville Township. Baumgardner will start Jan. 1, 2015, filling Klosterman’s spot on the board.

The board meets every two months on the fourth Thursday of the month. The next meeting is set for July 24.

Tryon provided a brief status of the cemetery. He explained that a part of the cemetery’s 100 acres is in the city limits and partly outside it. The cemetery is overseen by Superintendent Dick O’Brien and is in good financial standing. A local hardware wholesaler and retailer A.F. Koop started The Koop Family Foundation of Second National Bank, helps to contribute to maintaining The Koop Family mausoleum and the cemetery grounds this past year, Tryon said.

In a separate interview, O’Brien added that the cemetery board needed permission from the state and then the Darke County Courts to release the Koop Foundation funds to use for cemetery grounds maintenance.

“We don’t get any tax money and are self-supporting,” O’Brien said.

The cemetery gets donations from the city and Greenville Township for capital improvements. One goal this year is to add one-foot-by-one-foot crypts in the Mausoleum. The crypts will be big enough to hold two cremation remains, he said.

“There’s over 13,000 people buried here,” O’Brien said of the entire cemetery, noting that’s the population of Greenville. There is room to grow and not all of the 100 acres can be used because it’s in a flood zone. “The cemetery is 150-plus years old.” People are cremating more, which takes up less space.

In selling plots, people like trees and that’s in the older parts of the cemetery, but now the cemetery board will try to plant trees so they don’t interfere with the plots and grave sites for the future, he said.

In a storm last week the cemetery lost two trees and last winter’s toll took five and three more are expected to be taken down because they have limb damage or are dead. The Asian Ash Borer are responsible for a few trees, too. The cemetery does take donations from the public toward memorial trees as new trees are planted.

“We have a selection of trees to choose from,” O’Brien said. People can come to the office at 200 West Street, Greenville, by the front gates to inquire or call 937-548-3235.

While no major events are set in the cemetery except for the Memorial Day celebration, it allows walkers, bikers to use the paths.

“Walkers and bikers do go through and that’s fine, and we have no problem with that. In fact, it’s off the beaten path and highway and it’s safer,” he said.

Another event held locally are history walking tours at no charge but donations are welcome lasting 95 minutes beginning at the archway entrance. The next one for that is set this fall at 5 p.m. on Thursdays in September.

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