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Cemetery board seeks funding

May 18, 2013

The Custer County Foundation recently awarded a $500 grant to the Broken Bow Township Cemetery, with some of the funds being used to host a fundraiser Historic Cemetery Tour June 2. Pictured, from left, is Lonnie Brandt - cemetery caretaker, Kent Taylor - Cemetery Board, Dianna Whitesel - Custer County Foundation President, Pat Asuncion - Cemetery Board, Sharon Franssen - Cemetery Board, Tammy Hendrickson - Cemetery Board, and John Whitney - Chariman of the Cemetery Board.

HISTORIC CEMETERY TOUR - SUNDAY, JUNE 2
The Broken Bow Township Cemetery needs funds. That, says Cemetery Board Chairman John Whitney, is the bottom line.
The cemetery board has taken their concerns to the County Board of Supervisors and to the Broken Bow Township Board, and were told by both that there was nothing they could do. In one more attempt to get some much needed attention, the cemetery board came before the Broken Bow City Council during their regular meeting Tuesday.
Whitney says the problem with finances for the Township Cemetery, known to most as the Broken Bow City Cemetery, began in 2009, when a change when into effect on the way the property valuations were disbursed. Prior to that change the Township Cemetery received 100 percent of the tax dollars for upkeep and maintenance for the cemetery.
However, in 2009 that changed to only 50 percent of the revenue going to the cemetery. The other 50 percent goes to the city.
“As a result, we have had to freeze the salary of our caretaker, and we’ve been cutting corners everywhere we could,” says Whitney.
When talking about the dollars, things get a little confusing. Whitney noted that the City does not provide any funding for the cemetery - it is a township cemetery. Therefore, the cemetery board issued a request to the City Council asking them to return the other 50 percent of tax revenue back to the cemetery.
Mayor Cecil Burt says city accountant Dan Zach has researched this issue and has not been able to find where the City has received these funds the cemetery board is referring to. According to Whitney, the 50 percent going to the City amounts to around $30,000 per year.
“We have been going behind approximately $1,000 month every year since 2009,” says Whitney. He says the board has been spending $10,000-$15,000 per year from their reserves trying to keep up.
Cemetery Board member Kent Taylor also addressed the City Council. Taylor explained that the costs associated with the upkeep of the cemetery keep going up, while revenue from the cemetery continues to lessen due to a declining population and more people using cremation services.
Cemetery Board member Tammy Hendrickson offered to compile paperwork from the County Treasurer showing a breakdown of the exact dollar amounts in question, and where that money is going. She plans to bring that information to the next City Council meeting.
Meanwhile, the Cemetery Board has come up with a couple of fun and unique fundraising ideas to generate a little income for the cemetery. The board will host a Historic Tour of the Broken Bow Township Cemetery, Sunday, June 2.
The historical past will be told for a dozen people in the oldest part of the cemetery, with special speakers telling their stories.
The outdoor walking tour will begin at 2 p.m., and will feature actors dressed in period costume relating details of some “famous” and “infamous” characters buried in the cemetery.
The tour is expected to last about an hour, with a different speaker for each character on the tour. Guests are asked to enter the north gate, and bring a lawn chair if you think you may need to sit.
For those who may have an issue walking, a non-walking tour will be offered Tuesday, June 18, at the Custer County Historical Society Museum on the west side of the square. This event will begin at 7 p.m.
Tickets for either tour are $10 per person, and a ticket will allow you to attend both events if you wish. Tickets are available at the Custer County Historical Society Museum or by contacting Tammy Hendrickson at 872-2564. Donations to the Broken Bow Township Cemetery are also welcome anytime.
Sponsors for the cemetery tour are the Custer County Foundation, Palmer Monument Company, Govier Brothers Mortuary and the Broken Bow Lion’s Club.

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