Cemetery appearance improved

Dear Editor:

We would like to offer our perspective on Wanda Borden’s letter of July 8 regarding the appearance of the Mt. Zion Cemetery near Churchtown.

We can assure Ms. Borden that no one was more disappointed with the condition of the cemetery this spring than the cemetery board members. Each year proposals for lawn care are solicited and reviewed. Our contractor for 2012 was the same company we had in 2011, but as was noted with a far different result.

Initially, promised work wasn’t done and later, our calls were not returned. We terminated the services of that company in June. We learned later that the business was for sale and was quite obvious that the owner had already quit.

A new provider was hired and we hope you will agree that the appearance has improved in recent weeks. But we can assure you this problem was not the result of inattentiveness.

We shared your pain and disappointment as our relatives and church members are interred there as well.

The business model of maintaining the cemetery is a challenging one. You are correct that state statutes require that 15 percent of lot sales be put aside for perpetual care. Our practice has been to set aside 20 - 25 percent, recognizing the importance of building that fund.

Only income from the fund can be used for current maintenance. But anyone who thinks that $100 or $200 is sufficient to maintain a grave in perpetuity isn’t being realistic. Our cost for cutting the grass is $825 per cut. This does not include other miscellaneous expenses, like storm and brush clean up and trash. The annual cost of just keeping the grass cut will be about $20,000.

Given the low interest rate environment, income has been greatly reduced from all investments. And while expenses are known and growing, revenue from grave openings is very unpredictable.

The cemetery is a nonprofit organization run by a board of volunteers. And yes, the appearance was disappointing this spring. But we can assure you it was not the result of inattentiveness or disrespect. We are doing our best under challenging circumstances.

If Ms. Borden would like to start a capital campaign for perpetual care, we would love to talk with her. If she has ideas for improvement, we welcome them. And we would welcome her check.

Jim Clay

President, Mt. Zion

Cemetery at Churchtown


Cyber schools cost us all

Dear Editor:

Cyber schools are just another drain on the publicly funded school budgets. Are you aware of the amount of money your local district is spending on cyber schools? If not, you’ll be surprised when you find out, it’s probably over a million dollars. It’s hard enough to support one school, so why must our tax dollars also pay for a cyber school, when a perfectly fine building is located in every district. If you have a child with a situation that they must stay home, then I understand, but if your reason is “because I want to”... too bad. Almost every school is cutting teachers from the payroll because of state budget cuts, one teacher can handle 25 students in a classroom. Now, compare that one salary to the cost of two or three students in cyber school, what’s the better deal? I have nothing against cyber schools, it’s probably a great learning experience (minus the socialization skills), however, I should not have to use my tax dollars to pay for it. I would suspect if private dollars have to pay for cyber schools, then the public schools will have more students.

Christopher Varner

Shippensburg

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