SUGGESTIONS FOR ESTABLISHING
A COUNTY CEMETERY COMMISSION

1. Identify the need in your county for a commission.

2. Call a meeting of interested persons and present your ideas. Select a chairperson and any other officers you think your committee will need. Division of responsibilities will save time and  prevent duplicated effort.

3. Locate and identify all known cemeteries in your county. Visit each cemetery and prepare a brief condition statement. Take photos to document your findings. The county DOT map, which may be obtained from your county engineer’s office, will show many of the cemetery sites.

4. On the DOT map identify all cemeteries, and conspicuously mark those which are endangered.  If they are to be saved from obliteration caused by gross neglect, desecration and vandalism, or encroachment, immediate action is necessary.  Display the map in a public place where it can be seen by as many county residents as possible.

5. Ask your local newspaper to run articles on the cemeteries which are endangered. Try to work in quotations from local citizens who are interested in the preservation of historic areas. The presence of the body of a veteran in an endangered cemetery could be used to involve local patriotic organizations in your committee.

6. Seek the support of local funeral directors, monument companies, genealogical and historical societies, conservationists, preservationists, and anyone else who has an interest in cemeteries.

7. Talk about the idea of a commission with anyone who will listen. Emphasize the positive values which a cemetery commission will provide. These include preservation, conservation, education, public good will, increased tourism, and the saving of money and effort by providing a centralized agency which can answer questions concerning cemetery
maintenance, preservation, and history. A cemetery commission can provide a forum for the resolution of cemetery disputes in a cooperative and harmonious atmosphere. This can prevent long lasting hard feelings and costly litigation.

8. Prepare a report of cemetery conditions and place copies with each county supervisor and other elected county officers, newspapers, public libraries, etc. You can summarize the report in a one-sheet handout for general distribution.

9. Appoint a small committee of articulate individuals to present the report and recommendations to the county supervisors.  Stress the theme of cooperation with trustees and supervisors to help them fulfill their cemetery responsibilities more easily. Stress that the cost to the cemetery can be very small. Possibly the county could provide copying privileges, paper, postage, etc.  Do not make a budget appropriation a requirement, but also do not refuse any help offered.

10. Persons suggested for appointment to the commission must be vitally interested in cemetery preservation, and they must be willing and able to devote considerable time to the work of the commission. All geographic areas of the county should be represented, either by a resident of, or by someone interested in, each county area. Seven members is a workable number for a commission, although this number ranges from five to nine members in different counties. You may wish to ask additional individuals to serve on an advisory panel once you are organized.

11. Your primary responsibility will be to work with township and county officials, but you should also ask for the support of the cemetery associations in your county, since you will probably be asked to assist them with their cemetery problems.

12. There are monetary costs involved that will need to be shouldered by your committee and supporters.  These can be kept to a minimum if you can get free access to a copying machine.