Brookfield Township Road Department is doing “more than the minimum maintenance requirements” at the Brookfield Township Cemetery, according to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission.
Just don’t try to tell that to Michalene and Wade Foltz.
“That’s the typical government bureaucracy, where they take your money and bring it to committees and don’t do anything,” Wade Foltz said of what he called a disappointing outcome to a complaint he and his wife filed against the township in September.
The Foltzes claimed township workers are knocking head stones off their foundations when they mow, using weed killer and weed trimmers in a way that is undermining the foundations of gravestones, knocking vases off gravestones and running over fresh graves before the ground has settled.
The commission, which attempts to resolve disputes but has no authority to take punitive action, invited a response from the township. Road Superintendent Jaime Fredenburg publicly defended his workers’ practices and conduct, acknowledging that he looks for ways to reduce the amount of work because of “limited resources.”
The commission met in December and invited the parties to join them. Fredenburg made the trip to Columbus, while the commission relied on written submissions and photos from the Foltzes. Fredenburg said he explained his approach to cemetery work, and how he balances time and resources with other responsibilities of the road crew.
“They understand what it takes to do maintenance at a cemetery,” he said of the commission members.
Anne M. Petit, superintendent for the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing, under whose umbrella the commission falls, said in a letter to both parties that families are responsible for the care of monuments, “but that the township does attempt to fix those stones that are knocked over or leaning to help avoid any safety issues.”
The commission closed the case but issued recommendations to the township:
- Use a tamper when backfilling graves “to help relieve some of the settling that is occurring.”
- Continue resetting monuments “when it can.”
- Review the cemetery’s rules and regulations to add rules concerning monument dealers that pour foundations.
- Have a cemetery representative present when foundations are being poured.
“They told us that they couldn’t do a darn thing about it and it’s up to Jaime to make that look OK,” Wade Foltz said of his interpretation of the commission’s letter.
Asked whether he intends to take other action against the township, Foltz said he wants to see how the cemetery is maintained this year, and whether township workers straighten any stones.
“I’m hoping Jaime and them will show a little respect for the people buried there,” Foltz said.
Fredenburg said he will discuss the commission’s recommendations with the trustees in March when the department budget is reviewed.