PLATTSMOUTH – Many honor deceased loved ones by placing wreaths and other items at their respective grave sites.
Unfortunately, these items sometimes interfere with the overall maintenance of public and private cemeteries.
The onslaught of rain this summer and fall has also had an impact on normal ground maintenance at Oak Hill Cemetery in Plattsmouth.
Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis noted that the recent state of the cemetery has drawn biting comments on social media sites.
At Monday’s city council meeting, he said there are several variables affecting cemetery maintenance.
Portis explained that funding is not the problem.
Portis: “There is plenty of money budgeted, but finding seasonal staff has gotten really challenging.”
Pay raises have been made for the positions.
Portis: “Because of child labor laws, we do not hire people under the age 18. We also can’t let them operate dangerous equipment and mowers are under that regulations. If we hire college-age youth, they head back to school In August.”
Medical issues have also impacted full-time staff.
Portis said “trinkets” have interfered with effective mowing.
Portis: “I encourage everybody to go out and walk the cemetery. One-third of all the headstones have trinkets on them. We’ve been generous in not enforcing the cemetery rule of removing them by April 1 and we have left those trinkets. But mowing around all those trinkets takes time.”
There have been times when water department employees have also worked to maintain the grounds.
Mayor Paul Lambert: “We’ve just been fighting through it.”
Portis recommends revising some of the cemetery rules regarding items put on the graves.
He added that they will soon be spraying chemicals to kill the broadleaf weeds. These chemicals may very well kill some of the desired plants at the grave sites.