City officials have been steadily refining rules for three local cemeteries since Fall 2016, struggling to balance compassion for grieving families with ongoing maintenance challenges at the gravesites.
After almost a year-and-a-half of consideration and consultation with residents and funeral home representatives, the city's updated rules and regulations received a unanimous vote from council members Tuesday night.
“I think it shows an awful lot of effort,” Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said, “and shows a lot of compassion and caring in what you’ve done with it.”
Noting interment rights are for burial (not title to the land), the modified regulations detail that a single monument shall not exceed the width of a single plot. Slabs are not permitted, and the height of a monument may not exceed four feet.
“All foot stones and corner markers must be level with the ground as not to interfere with mowing,” per the regulations. At the Garden of Paradise and future expansions of Danville Cemetery, “including future cremation spaces, monuments will be required to be flat markers at ground level so as not to interfere with mowing.”
No spaces are available for sale at Kilgore City Cemetery. Adult spaces at Danville Cemetery are $1,200, $100 for infants and $200 for cremation spaces. Spaces at Kilgore Memorial are $1,575, $100 for infant spaces, $200 for cremation spaces and $100 for infant cremation spaces.
In the updated guidelines, flowers and potted plants are permitted for six weeks after interment “as to allow time for grieving,” but all other items will be removed. Flowers must be in vases attached to the monuments; they are not allowed on the ground.
“The City of Kilgore will make special allowances for the holiday season from Nov. 20 – Jan. 5,” according to the regulations, and “families will be permitted to place flowers on the ground if (a) monument does not have a vase.”
Benches are limited to marble or granite, and placement must be at the foot of the space (not vertically along the side of a plot).
Addressing the new regulations, Liberty City resident Vickie Raymond praised the effort that went into the regulations, but expressed a concern about the limitation on the bench materials – granite and marble are expensive, especially as a family pays for a funeral, she said, while concrete can be properly maintained.
“I know that concrete crumbles and breaks away, and in my opinion, that’s at the point that you use discretionary option to remove them,” she said. “With proper sealing ... they are quite durable for a long time, so I’m disappointed that y’all did not choose to include concrete for that reason, but I appreciate the effort you put into the rest of it because I know some of what you’ve been dealing with.”
The modifications also specify rules for flags on graves.
“Flag etiquette should always be followed when placing United States flags (any size or material) on gravesites. The City of Kilgore reserves the right to remove any US flag from a gravesite that does not follow proper flag etiquette,” per the guidelines. “Flag should never touch anything beneath it: ground, monuments, water, etc. Never place, fasten or display the flag in a way that will permit it to be damaged or soiled. When the flag is worn out or otherwise no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.”
Violating the cemetery regulations is a Class C Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $200.
Download a copy of the updated regulations online at KilgoreNewsHerald.com.