Officials are reviewing the documents turned over to the city clerk by funeral home owner Jeff Palmore in a claim that he owns two city cemetery grave spaces that were deeded to someone else.
Repeating earlier claims, Palmore spoke at the April 16 board of aldermen meeting asking the city to move forward on a promise to give him deeds for the spaces.
At the Feb. 19 board meeting, Aldermen Ed Gass and Brad Reed crafted an agreement to acknowledge that Jeff Palmore, owner of Bell Funeral Home, owned two grave spaces in Lot 135, which he purchased when he bought Bell Funeral Home.
At that meeting, aldermen approved a measure for cemetery sexton Alan Bruns to change the official registry of Lot 135 grave ownership identifying Palmore as owner of two grave spaces.
Aldermen called for an ordinance regulating changes in grave space ownership and agreed to meet with Palmore after the ordinance passed, but Palmore said the meeting never took place and he never received new deeds.
“I was promised a meeting with some aldermen. Since that never happened I will talk about this in public meetings until it is cleared up,” Palmore said.
Gass lobbied for the city staff to determine ownership of the spaces and once it was determined that Palmore owned the lots to give him new deeds.
But City Attorney Dan Vogel insists that Palmore has not followed the correct procedure for the city to issue new deeds called for in the new ordinance.
“You all (aldermen) created a procedure for the transfer of lots and he (Palmore) hasn’t followed the procedure,” Vogel said.
Palmore said he provided the city with the chain of ownership documents that showed the spaces were his. He said the city created the new ordinance and new procedures after he had applied for deeds for the spaces, which he said was creating a law after the fact.
“That’s like police observing someone traveling 30 miles an hour in a 30-mph zone then changing the ordinance to say the speed limit is 15 miles per hour after the fact,” Palmore said. “You can’t do that.”
But Vogel stood his ground saying he wrote a procedure, which aldermen passed, requiring cemetery lot owners to pay a $25 fee and submit a written application asking for transfer of ownership.
Palmore became visibly angry.
“Mr. Vogel, are your simple?” Palmore said. “I’ve already done that.”
Gass urged both men to stop arguing and look at the sequence of events since it was agreed that Palmore owned the lots. Gass asked if the staff could clarify anything that Palmore still needed to do, saying staff should be able to determine ownership.
“Let’s stop here,” Gass said. “What has he turned in and what does he need to turn in?”
Mayor Herb Adams said the public discussion had gone on beyond the five-minute limit allowed for public comments.
Adams instructed Kim Barfield, city clerk, to make two lists — one list of documents that Palmore has already submitted that relates to the grave spaces ownership and one of the items called for in the ordinance that are needed to complete the transfer of ownership.
“We’ll try to resolve this outside the meeting,” Adams said.