Kansas looks at cemetery repairs

By GARY HENRY ghenry@prairiepress.net
Posted 1/10/22

KANSAS — The Dec. 10 storm that ripped through Edgar County and spawned a confirmed tornado north of Chrisman also did significant damage to Fairview Cemetery, near Kansas.

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Kansas looks at cemetery repairs

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KANSAS — The Dec. 10 storm that ripped through Edgar County and spawned a confirmed tornado north of Chrisman also did significant damage to Fairview Cemetery, near Kansas.

How to address the damage was a topic of discussion during the Wednesday, Jan. 5, village board meeting. The storm toppled trees that in turn broke and knocked over stones. Some stones may have been blown over by the wind.

“I counted 25 stones, some dating back to the 1800s,” said village employee Max Hunter.

Determining who is financially responsible for the stones may become a challenge.

Village clerk Pam Shaeffer discussed the matter with the village insurance provider. The insurance company is covering the damage to the trees but said repairing or replacing gravestones is a family responsibility.

Village resident Steve Hood, who is one of the people tasked with cemetery oversight, said many of the gravestones at the cemetery are for people who no longer have family living in the area. He added his conversation with the insurance company revealed the stones are protected against acts of vandalism but not acts of God, like the storm.

Hood said he will confer with Hunter about the names on the damaged stones and see what can be done about contacting survivors. His question to the village board is what to do about those stones that need repaired or reset and no family is available to cover the cost.

“I don’t want Max taking it on,” said Mayor Ross Carrell. “He has too much on his plate.”

Hunter added making the repairs is too much for him as it will require special equipment and expertise.’

“There are some monsters out there that blew over,” said Hunter, estimating some of the gravestones at 500 pounds or more.

Hood speculated a tornado touched down in the cemetery since there is no damage in the immediate area except to the cemetery property.

In addition to cleaning up the down trees, Hunter said the tree service should also remove some of the more severely, but still standing, damaged trees.

Hood was asked to have a monument company look at the damage and prepare a cost estimate for repairs for the village board to consider.

The effort to create a sanitary sewer system in Kansas continues to progress although one kink has developed. Graham Bennett, of Francis Engineering, reported the Clark County community of Westfield has received grants and loans from both USDA rural Development and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to fund construction of a sewage treatment plant.

An auxiliary to that plan was to build pipelines from Kansas and the Coles County village of Ashmore to carry waste to Westfield for processing. Bennett said Ashmore village officials recently pulled from the plan and decided to build a sewage treatment plant to serve that community.

On the positive side, all plans submitted for a Kansas pipeline to Westfield have been endorsed by Rural Development, which is a step toward securing funding.

“Everything we hear is positive,” said Bennett. “We need to seek money now.”

Village trustee Jason Harris asked why Kansas is not building a treatment plant like Westfield and now Ashmore.

Bennett said a sewer plant will commit the village to hiring a licensed operator, but it would free Kansas from the obligation of maintaining a pipeline over several miles of rural countryside. The village will also need suitable property to build a treatment plant.

He said the engineering company will look at the cost difference between building a pipeline and a full-treatment plant and report back.

Police Chief Jeff Goodwin discussed a frustrating experience with the patrol vehicle. He said the unit just got back from the shop after being in an accident and one of the part-time officers hit a coyote with the newly repaired vehicle.

Damage was limited to some broken plastic cowling with an estimated cost of $800. The insurance policy has a $500 deductible, and Goodwin asked if it was worth making a claim that will only pay $300 and risk higher premiums or just absorb the cost through department funds.

The village board decided against filing a claim.

Goodwin mentioned the new 2022 laws regarding policing will require about 60 hours of classroom time for him. One of the laws requires the use of body cameras by 2025.

“I am already using one,” said Goodwin, adding he plans to purchase a second camera for use by the part-time officers.

Goodwin’s report included monthly department statistics. For December, Kansas police: issued two citations, gave eight written and 15 verbal warnings, made one criminal arrest, responded to five complaints, assisted four motorists and assisted the Edgar County Sheriff on two occasions.