Council adjusts cemetery fees for cremation burials

The City of Gladewater will now permit up to two burials in one cemetery plot if one, or both, are cremation remains.
Council members green light last week follows extensive research by City Clerk Judy Von Houten and Public Works Director Al Harrison, angling to make the best use of limited space while also reducing burial costs for individual spaces.
“This would allow up to two burials, a full burial and a cremation or two cremations. I think it would be a better use of our land for the city, for our cemetery,” Von Houten told the council Feb. 15. “It makes it more convenient for people.
“I am proposing that y’all approve a 40 percent convenience fee for the second burial” of $600 instead of an additional $1500 for a second, separate burial. “That seems to be the going standard from funeral homes.”
Consideration of the updated cemetery regulations was the main discussion item during the elected officials’ regularly-scheduled February session.
In his opening comments Feb. 15, Mayor Scott Owens reminded the audience of the upcoming Gladewater Chamber Banquet, the 93rd annual event, set for March 28 in the Gladewater Former Students Association building.
City Manager Charlie Smith noted progress as Hendricks Street is under repair.
“They’re really doing a good job, keeping it open as much as possible,” he said, also noting on Thursday, “We started doing some pothole repair on Shell Camp today and several other streets around town. We’ve got a lot of that to do.”
Meanwhile, at the wastewater plant, city employee Just Davis has secured his Class B Wastewater license, “which is a really big achievement,” after about seven months on the job. “He came in gung-ho… I was very proud of him for doing that.”
Among the items on their consent agenda, the six council members in attendance unanimously-approved adding a voter-decision on pending charter amendments to the May 4 election along with a rate increase for Republic Services’ solid waste disposal inside the city limits.
Notably, Owens said, the schedule of rates is adjusted according to the Consumer Price Index.
“It’s time to do that adjustment per our contract. The residential rate will go up $0.60 per month.”
The council members also signed off on a municipal ban of TikTok on city-owned/issued devices, bringing Gladewater into alignment with still-new state regulations.
“It is state-mandated that we pass a policy prohibiting TikTok,” Von Houten confirmed.
Regarding the cemetery regulations, Thursday’s action also updates a number of out-of-date items in the guidelines, but the council’s dialogue focused primarily on the joint burial of cremated with full remains.
“The way things are going now, there’s so many cremations,” Smith said. “This is a benefit for our citizens, and there’s some other benefits coming down the road in the near future for cremation-type burials.”
Cremated remains must be sealed in a container similar to other burials, Von Hout added. It prevents, for example, the remnants of a cremated individual’s pacemaker from leeching into the soil. There’s also a process specifying how cremated remains will be interred.
“When you purchase a plot there, it’s deeded to you and you own it,” Owens said, but there are rules such as notifying the city of the identity of who has been buried in the plot, with the owner’s permission.
“Can someone buy a small plot for cremations urns?” council member Rocky Hawkins asked.
“That will be coming in the future,” Von Houten replied. “This is the first step in the process here tonight. I’m working to bring that to you, hopefully in March.”

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