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A really nice post on life in the cemetery. A different point of view for most folks.

The Field Naturalist Ballarat

Modern cemeteries may be boring. Designed for low maintenance with white gravel or manicured lawns, the view may be good but there is sameness in all the regimented rows. You may need to be selective but if you decide to visit a country cemetery you will often find there is more to look at than just tombstones, gravel and arum lilies.

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This year has found the department significantly reduced in both staffing and overall funding. It has been a challenge to keep up with the day to day operations.

Thankfully, several townspeople came forward to donate their time in the cemeteries. We who are left at the department offer our heartfelt gratitude to all those individuals who gave of themselves in order to help preserve the tradition of the New England Cemetery. This year especially, we could not do it without you. Thanks!

These fine folks worked hard at spring clean up at Jones Cemetery and have been keeping up with the grass cutting this season

Memorial Day is a time honored tradition for cemeteries.  It is a day to remember those who came before us.  Those who forged the way.

Care for loved ones who have passed away and the feelings of those families who have lost someone dear to them have a large claim on us who have the responsibility of operating  and maintaining cemeteries.

The financial restraints of these difficult economic times made this year’s  Memorial Day preparations all the more challenging.  Many of our Town’s people gave generously of themselves to help us create a landscape fitting of the occasion.  For that, they have my heartfelt thanks.

We have had a series of beautiful days this week in the North Quabbin region.  Pete and I have been outside everyday raking, repairing winter graves, fixing plow scrapings, trimming shrubbery and generally picking up.

It seems a little scary to believe that Spring has come but I have been outside working everyday without a coat.  The weather forecast is calling for rain snow mix this weekend and I expect one or two more plowable snow storms but I sure am enjoying these warm sunny days!

For those of you in town, please remember that all grave decorations must be removed by April 1st and graves must be kept undecorated until April 15th for Spring cleanup.  Also please note that we are removing Christmas decorations now.  If you have Christmas decorations in the cemetery that you would like to reuse, please come and pick them up.

Thanks!

Josh and Pete

Eight to Ten inches of heavy wet snow fell this morning.  We plowed open South Cemetery and then checked our other cemeteries for tree damage.

Mostly we encountered a few limbs down, some blocking the back roads, and picked them up.  Here are some shots of an old maple at Jones Cemetery that broke in half and got caught up in its own lower limbs.

Started with the pole saw. Carefully selecting limbs in order to lower the piece slowly to the ground.

The top of the tree broke off and became caught in the crotch of a lower limb on its way to the ground. The lower limb broke but not completely off.

Here's the top on the ground

Immediate danger resolved. Will return in better weather to consider removing this tree.

A lot of people ask what we do in the winter.  Among other things, we do tree removal.  Many of the spruce trees in our cemeteries are dying.  After speaking with an arborist, it was decided that removing the sick trees was the best defense against whatever is affecting the healthy trees.

This spruce was planted in the northern section of Central Cemetery as a soldier’s memorial.  The following photographs show its removal.

White Spruce

Looking from the South

Utilizing skills we learned at a Chainsaw Safety / Directional Tree Felling class put on by Baystate Roads and instructor Tim Ard; we were able to confidently drop this tree between two headstones without the use of ropes or large equipment.

When the ground thaws and time allows we will remove the stump.  We left the stump high so as to have something to push against during it’s removal.  Being that this area was designated a soldier’s memorial I would like to plant something else on this mound.  Perhaps a small evergreen or flowering tree.  Suggestions are welcome.

This past summer the Cemetery Department built a new peaked roof over its South Cemetery maintenance building.  The building was originally constructed with a flat rubber roof.  The original roof required a good amount of regular maintenance and was beginning to fail with a deep sag and some wet and rotted framing materials.  The Town’s Capital Improvement Planning Committee approved the Cemetery Department’s request for a new roof on the building; making the project possible.

The original plan was to utilize the construction department of the Franklin County Technical School.  Due to budget constraints and time delays on other committed projects, the Tech School was not able to complete our project.  The staff did, however, make themselves available for technical advice should the Cemetery Department move forward on their own.

This is the path that the Cemetery Department ultimately decided to take.  The project was supervised by contractor David T. Frye and completed by the staff at the Department.  Rain was the big story in the early parts of construction but the staff of Steve Richard, Peter Walsh, Commissioner George Willard, Joshua Knechtel and some much appreciated volunteer help was able to complete the project before winter set in.

Here are some photos of the work in progress:

West Gable End

Roof Trusses on with bigginning of trim

North Side

Trusses up and strapped. First metal going down