OSCODA – Following an update to the Pinecrest Cemetery contract between Oscoda and AuSable townships, the former – which maintains the property – has since established a subcommittee to further research cemetery regulations and related matters.

It was at their latest meeting when the Oscoda Township Board of Trustees voted to create the cemetery subcommittee, with the membership comprised of Clerk John Nordeen, Superintendent Dave Schaeffer, Trustee William Palmer and Building & Grounds Department Foreman Bill Hamlin.

“The purpose of the cemetery committee would be to evaluate the current cemetery operations, make recommendations to implement operational improvements, and provide long-term solutions to gain program efficiencies,” Schaeffer explained.

“The cemetery committee would also work with AuSable Township to provide long-term solutions to the intergovernmental cemetery agreement,” he added.

He further noted that subcommittee members would be encouraged to attend the Michigan Townships Association two-part cemetery management training.

Palmer told the board that he would be willing to work on the subcommittee, but that he would also need the training to learn more about cemetery operations and the contracts associated with same.

Nordeen said he thought it would be fitting if he, too, was part of the subcommittee, since his office has a part in conducting the administration for the cemetery.

He pointed out that he has already been looking at other municipal cemetery ordinances, and has also spoken with the attorney for Oscoda regarding the need for one.

Nordeen said he believes the most impactful work a committee could do, and the most that they could bring to this topic, would involve the future of the cemetery and the space limitations it has.

While he said he thinks that the ordinance and the contract can be handled outside of the subcommittee, he supposes that the group could take this on, as well.

As for Schaeffer’s involvement, he offered to be part of the subcommittee since he will be doing the budget for the cemetery.

Treasurer Jaimie McGuire asked whether anybody had reached out to Hamlin to see if he would be interested in the subcommittee, since he is the sexton for cemetery.

“I think Bill would be more than willing to talk to us and be involved in it,” Schaeffer said.

“Aren’t the contracts what we have an attorney for?” McGuire also asked.

Schaeffer said he thinks Nordeen was correct in saying that any contracts/ordinances and other technical items may be best handled outside of the subcommittee. The idea, rather, is for the group to focus on a plan for the cemetery and how the township is going to make this work in perpetuity.

Palmer said he thinks the function of the subcommittee would be to formulated a long-term plan for the cemetery and have an outline of the items which need to be updated/changed within the current ordinance. The information could then be sent to the township attorney to incorporate it into the newly drafted document.

As reported, it was during their Sept. 9 meeting when Schaeffer shared with officials an update to the contract for cemetery services, as prepared by the township attorney. The prior agreement was drafted in 1984 and contained indemnification language that must be removed.

Schaeffer said it is an annual contract which automatically renews unless terminated, as  has been the case for the past 35 years.

Palmer said at the time that he believed the agreement was being updated to take out some specific language but, in reviewing the document, it seemed to him that there were also some problems with the overall contract which should be resolved.

He suggested a committee be formed to review cemetery regulations, so that a valid contract can be in place for next year.

Schaeffer elaborated that all he was doing was taking out the indemnification language from 1984. What Palmer was talking about, though, was restructuring the framework of the document instead of making just a minor tweak.