Donations encouraged for ongoing care of Greenwood Cemetery

YORK – People dollars, not taxes, keep Greenwood green.

Those words were written years ago by Greenwood Cemetery board member, Donna Rhoades, as she explained how continuing donations are needed to help care for the large cemetery in York. And those words are still true.

Greenwood Cemetery is not a taxing entity; it does not have its own tax levy and it receives no public dollars. It is a non-profit organization.

The cemetery operates solely on the revenue generated by the sale of burial plots. That money is placed in the cemetery’s general fund and obviously ebbs and flows as plot sales happen.

There have historically been enough funds to pay for a full-time caretaker, a part-time secretary and several very-part-time workers who help mow, as well as for the general care of the 35-acre cemetery. However, when there are unforeseen expenses – like the need to replace a piece of machinery, or remove dead trees, or to irrigate more – donations are key.

Todd Gardner, longtime cemetery caretaker, explained how the money generated from plot sales is invested and interest is used.

Plots cost $750 each, Gardner said, and of that, 90% goes into the general fund for operating expenses and 10% is filtered into the perpetual care fund as dictated by the cemetery bylaws.

“Perpetual care ensures there will be money available to meet future needs of the facility,” Gardner said.

Each year, the cemetery board reaches out to the public, encouraging donations. This is typically in December, right before the end of the year. They sat down for this interview now, in September, as a reminder to the public and will be doing so again in a few months.

While there are regular donors, more are needed.

Gardner said there are about a dozen private donors who financially contribute each fall when it is time for autumn spraying. “That really helps offset the costs,” Gardner said.

The cemetery receives memorial dollars as well.

One need at this time centers around trees. There is the issue of the Emerald Ash Borer – Gardner said there are about 30 ash trees at the cemetery and they’ve slowly, little by little, have been removing them and replacing them with other types of trees. There is also the issue of evergreens dying due to a recent blight – there are two very large such pine trees on the west end of the cemetery that will have to be taken down as they are no longer alive.

Cindi Nickel, a Greenwood board member, says donations are tax deductible and the cemetery receives its greatest influx of donations toward the end of the year because of that.

Regardless of when the funds are received, they are crucial, she said.

“There are so many unknowns,” Nickel said. “Trees are always an issue. Machinery is as well – right now, we need to replace a backhoe. Fuel and chemical costs have increased dramatically. We have a beautification fund. And we have installed the cremation mausoleum with the intent of installing a second. Those are just some examples. We do the best we can. I have heard from people who comment how beautiful the cemetery is, but it takes a lot of care.”

“And it needs to stay green,” Gardner added, saying they had to irrigate earlier than usual this year because of the very dry start of the summer.

If someone wants to make a donation, they can call the cemetery office or any of the board members. They can also directly send checks to the cemetery office as well.

Board members are Jack Sikes, Jon Brouillette, Wes Tonniges, Vicky Kopcho, Ron Winquest, Nickel and Gardner.

“There are a lot of non-profit organizations in our community and I feel this one might be the most out of sight, out of mind,” Nickel said.

Indeed, it is easy to take it for granted that Greenwood Cemetery is just always beautiful and very well-kept but it takes a lot behind the scenes – work and expense.

“We have tried to think of everything that might be needed, but God forbid there would be a big storm, machinery breakdowns, all those types of unforeseen costs,” Gardner said. “That’s where the donated funds are needed, as well as for general rising costs and needs.”

Nickel said donations of all sizes are very much needed and very much appreciated.

“We just want to continue to care for this beautiful cemetery for many, many years to come,” Gardner said. “That is what we intend to do, we just need to make sure the expense of that is taken care of well into the future.”

Donations may be mailed to the cemetery office at 1000 West 18th Street in York. The office can also be contacted at 402-362-4552 or at greenwoodcemetery@windstream.net.

 

 

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