BLUFFTON — After meeting for more than two hours, it appears the Shannon Cemetery Commission still may not have a solution to restoring the cemetery.
Commission members did make a recommendation during the meeting to allow for a ground penetrating radar procedure to be performed, but even that is in jeopardy.
Commission chairman Nate Ulrey plans to recommend to council that they allow for the procedure, which could potentially locate grave sites, but only with donated funds. The Friends of Shannon Cemetery, a group of concerned citizens wanting the cemetery restored, agreed to pay for the $650 to do the procedure, but only if it is guaranteed that all head stones are returned to their original sites. The two organizations spent time disagreeing at times that some of the original sites could be located due to incomplete records.
Commission member Dick Boehr contested that many misrepresentations had been made of the commission’s plans, which must be ultimately approved by village council.
“There is distortion in the facts that people are representing,” Boehr said. “I don’t take the comments seriously.”
Boehr later reached a brief heated verbal exchange with Friends of the Shannon Cemetery member Ray Mumma, which was quickly cut off by Ulrey.
“The fighting has got to stop,” Ulrey said. “We have been at this for five months and there are a lot of hurt feelings out there.”
The cemetery closed in 1870 because it was full. A few over 40 grave sites are known now, but some estimate as many as 200 people are buried there. Head stones from the 40 grave sites are in storage as the issue is being sorted out.
The commission reviewed the thoughts of a survey given to several area community organizations, which the most popular suggestion being replacement of the stones and creating a memorial with the remaining stones in which burial spots could not be located. Records from the cemetery were lost many years ago to a fire, however the Friends of the Cemetery have said they have been able to locate several locations through other sources such as newspapers and records kept elsewhere.
The commission expressed concern with accepting the donation if it came with requirements because they did not want to tie the hands of council.
The commission also briefly discussed the existence of any federal laws requiring them to put tombstones back in their original spots for veterans. Village solicitor Steve Chamberlain said he had been in contact with the Veterans Administration and told that no such law exists and that no laws had been broken up to that point with removal of the stones to be placed in storage.
Reach Lance Mihm at 567-242-0409 or at Twitter@LanceMihm