By Pat Maurer
Fall debris, including small branches and leaves, along with sod from an unknown source have led to complaints from some residents about the appearance of the Lincoln Township Cemetery.
Cemetery Commissioner Mike Tobin said there are more than 1,300 sites at the cemetery and between 400 and 500 markers. The oldest grave is from 1901.
Nancy McKenzie of Lake George, who said she has “a lot” of family buried at the cemetery, called the older section of the cemetery “a disaster.”
She cited dirt piles in front of graves, debris from the trees left from last year and no cleanup around the graves. She said a site where her aunt was buried needed cleanup, which hadn’t been done, although a daughter did some cleanup on her own.
Deborah Day, who lives next to the cemetery, agreed. “They don’t take care of it the way they should,” she said. “There hasn’t been anyone in there cleaning up in quite a few weeks.” She said she had talked to the (township) supervisor and a board trustee or the treasurer. “I just get snippy answers,” she said.
She also cited people driving through the cemetery at night and “throwing stuff around.” She said, “When I called about it I was told to call the police.” She said when she did call police, the people in the cemetery were gone when they arrived.
Lincoln Township Clerk Carol Majewski said she hasn’t spoken to anyone about problems at the cemetery. “It is a lovely cemetery, there’s nothing bad there, and in fact we have been making a lot of improvements.” She did say a recent windstorm has knocked down some small branches and a lot of leaves.
She said the cemetery’s recent improvements include new landscaping in the newer area with a bench, trees and brickwork around the flower plantings. “So many wonderful people have volunteered for township projects including the cemetery,” she said. She said Marilyn Hudson and Janice Chapman did the cemetery landscaping and even donated some of the plants. The Mid Michigan Community College welding class designed and donated the labor to build the entrance arch to the graveyard. “We are trying very hard to keep this [cemetery] nice.”
Majewski said the debris from the trees in the old section of the cemetery is something that happens every fall. “There are lots of trees in the cemetery. That means lots of leaves. We have contracted with Elm Creek to take care of the cemetery,” she said, “and they should be out there anytime – probably this week – to begin the annual fall cleanup.”
Tobin, who is also a Lincoln Township trustee as well as commissioner in charge of the cemetery, said, “There’s no piles of stuff out there. This is unfounded as far as I’m concerned.” He said “The cemetery is in better condition than it has ever been.” He added, “I wish people would just call me. If there is a problem I would take care of it. I’m out there every day.”
He said he has not been contacted by McKenzie or Day about any problems, but said the “piles of dirt” were from a recent un-interment and have been taken care of. He didn’t know where the squares of sod, by McKenzie’s aunts grave, came from. “I wish she would have called me,” he said.
Majewski said, “To my knowledge, she (McKenzie) hasn’t spoken to any knowledgeable person about this. People need to realize that this is not a perpetual care cemetery. We do the best we can to keep it nice.”
Tobin said the number to call to reach him is 989-588-2311. The Lincoln Township Hall number is 588-9841.