Wade Foltz shows how deep weed whacking around a gravestone in Brookfield Township Cemetery has caused a trench around the stone’s base – a trench the Masury man is convinced must be letting water settle around the base.
Township Road Superintendent Jaime Fredenburg, who also is responsible for cemetery maintenance, says deep weed whacking is essential to minimizing maintenance responsibilities at the cemetery
Foltz doesn’t agree.
“If you undercut a foundation, it’s going to destroy the foundation,” said Foltz. “(Water) will destroy houses and buildings. Why won’t it destroy this?”
Foltz and his wife, Michalene, have formalized their criticism of cemetery maintenance by filing a complaint with the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission.
The nine-member commission, which includes seven cemetery operators and two members of the public, suggest maintenance guidelines and attempt to resolve disputes, according to the Department of Commerce web site. It has no authority to make decisions or punitive authority.
The Foltzes said they felt compelled to file the complaint after getting no satisfaction from township officials.
The complaint essentially accuses township workers of carelessness, Fredenburg said. The document says stones and vases are being knocked over and not picked up, foundations are being cracked from deep weed whacking and the use of weed killer, and mowers are going over new graves.
The couple said they would like the workers to weed whack only to ground level, repair damaged gravestones, stop using weed killer and be more careful when mowing.
The frost-thaw cycle and vandals cause most of the damage in the cemetery, Fredenburg said.
“Typically, we don’t knock stones off foundations,” he said at the Oct. 2 trustees meeting. “We’ll bump into, maybe, a base. The mowers are zero-turn mowers. It happens.”
Workers use a bar or shovel to “straighten stuff back up,” Fredenburg said.
Weed killer and weed whacking do not crack foundations, Fredenburg said, although he acknowledged weed whacking can lead to “some erosion.”
“We go a little heavy with our weed whacking because, with our personnel, we don’t have time to go back every couple days and weed whack,” he said. “We spread weed killer in the older sections because then it eliminates weed whacking there. There are visitors to the old section but not as many as the new section, so it allows the workers to concentrate on the areas where there’s more people visiting grave stones.”
Foltz said he has brought buckets of dirt to the cemetery to fill the trenches around the graves of his and his wife’s loved ones to try to drain water away.
Fredenburg denied that employees knock stones off their bases, saying some of the techniques used to attach stones to bases are faulty.
In terms of lawn mowers running over new graves, “You really don’t have much choice,” Fredenburg said.
Workers try to fill in ruts and reseed them, he said.
“When you have limited resources, sometimes you try to do things that reduce the amount of work that’s going on there,” Fredenburg said.
The Foltzes said they understand the cemetery crew has limited resources and credited them for working hard in the cemetery.
“I don’t respect his decisions on the maintenance of the graves,” Foltz said. “We’re not looking to cause trouble. We just want things done right.”
Fredenburg has filed an answer to the complaint, and Mrs. Foltz said she plans to rebut it.
“I’m going to fight,” she said. “I just don’t think it’s right. I think it’s gone on for too long.”