To the editor:
The Plain Talk, on Oct. 15, contained an article discussing the possible establishment of a cemetery fund by Edis J. Anderson in memory of herself and her late husband, Sidney E. Anderson. The article was lengthy and perhaps wasn't completely read by everyone who held the paper in their hand and wondered what in the world was wrong with the BluffView Cemetery Board to not "take the money and run." The specific guidelines which "must be met" number 27 and were alluded to in the article; however, those specific guidelines were not listed. If anyone would like to read them, they should request a copy from Mrs. Anderson. Among them are such stipulations as the extermination of all moles and other rodents from the cemetery and to destroy all of the weeds that might grow in the lawn – this is to be done without any insecticide or poison of any kind.
If you read closely, you would see that $100,000 was placed in the South Dakota Foundation; in order for the BluffView Cemetery Board to lay claim to any of those dollars, they would need to raise $800,000 and then possibly another $100,000 would be added to the Sidney E. and Edis J. Anderson Perpetuity of Beauty Fund. The subsequent earnings from this $1 million would then be available to the Cemetery Board annually. No provision was made for the possibility that there would be no earnings. Bear in mind that the South Dakota Foundation must maintain a staff and office and any earnings from any fund would have to provide for that maintenance before any monies would be distributed elsewhere.
Also included was the idea that some other entity in Vermillion could possibly come forth to take the responsibility of the BluffView Cemetery – they must also come up with an additional $800,000 and they must do it by July 15, 2012. Vermillion residents should also be cognizant of the fact that the Sidney E. and Edis J. Anderson Perpetuity of Beauty Fund applies only to the BluffView portion of the cemetery – St. Agnes Calvary Cemetery would continue to be responsible for the adjoining cemetery. Did anyone ever stop to ask the question that if the BluffView Cemetery Board could raise $800,000 that they wouldn't need the $100,000 offered as starter funds for a million?
BluffView Cemetery has been in the process of undergoing a schedule of projects to improve the appearance of the cemetery; among those have been the recognition of the chapel as an historic structure and it has been appropriately cleaned, re-roofed, had a new floor installed, and pews were refinished and installed. This work was largely done by volunteer effort of the current board and its past president Louie Fostvedt. The monetary funds that made this renovation possible were contributed by Evelyn Peterson in memory of her husband.
Two years ago, the Cemetery Board allocated funds to create a beautiful boulevard of flowers trees, and benches. This summer, with contributed effort by the inmates from Yankton Federal Prison, the process of clearing massive growths of volunteer trees and undertaking the removal and repair of the wrought iron fence was begun. It is still a work in progress and the city of Vermillion is assisting with this process by hauling great quantities of scrap wood away from the premises. Once the trees are removed, the old fence will be removed, restored, and returned. The front gate was recently repaired by one of the board members.
The BluffView Cemetery Board consists of people from Vermillion who volunteer their time and often their own funds and effort to keep the grounds maintained. Mowing the grass is a Herculean effort each summer and equipment must be purchased and maintained to do these tasks. Board members pick up flowers after Memorial Day and keep the refuse hauled on a daily basis. Since its inception, the cemetery has been maintained by just such efforts. Anyone or any group is welcome to assist the Cemetery Board by helping out with these tasks.
Rather than creating the gargantuan task of raising many thousands of dollars, wouldn't it be wonderful if Edis J. Anderson would establish a fund to guarantee that there would be dollars to hire a staff to do the mowing and provide dollars to purchase a new mower which needs to be done every other year? If the stipulations would be met by another entity in Vermillion, how would the business of burying people be taken care of? Who would or could take the time to be with people in the midst of bereavement to visit with them about grave spaces, location, payments; who will do the financial managing of bequests, memorials, time of services and any other of the myriad tasks now provided by the Cemetery Board members?
The stipulations set forth in this fund demean the people who have dedicated so much of their time toward the welfare of the Cemetery for years and years. All around us are requests for money, talent, expertise and time to keep many good parts of our community operating. The cemetery as it stands presently is a beautiful memorial to those who have gone before. Mrs. Anderson would do better to give the board enough money to repair and straighten headstones, buy lawn mowers, gasoline for the mowers, and salary money for the mowers than to offer a gift with so many strings attached that she will never have to let go of it.
Vermillion Bluff View
Cemetery Board of Directors