City officials said they had found a way to settle a dispute with a funeral home director over ownership of two grave spaces in the city cemetery and, at the same time, correct the records of who is buried in a third space.
Jeff Palmore, owner of Bell Funeral Home, has asked the city to change the name listed on Lot 135, grave space 5, from Dora Kemper to Hazel Alice Kemper. He also said he owned two grave spaces in the lot where Kemper was buried, but the city had reassigned them.
After reviewing the records, Aldermen Ed Gass and Brad Reed put together a plan to rectify both claims.
“We’ve found a way to get you your two lots,” Gass told Palmore.
Speaking at the Feb. 19 board of aldermen meeting, Gass said he and Reed met with sexton Alan Bruns and reviewed the records and the method of registering space and lot ownership in the two city cemeteries.
“We can change the log that shows grave spaces and enter your name on lots 7 and 8,” Gass said. “We’d ask you to sign an affidavit to us that you did not sell those lots to anyone else.
“We also need proof of purchase from Bell Funeral Home or Byron Bell,” Reed said.
Palmore said he would be happy to provide the city with the sale records for the spaces.
City Attorney Dan Vogel said he understood that Palmore had a notarized letter outlining the sale, which the city can accept.
Vogel said the city needs to clarify the process of registering ownership of cemetery properties.
“You’re not supposed to transfer ownership without getting the registry changed,” Vogel said. “If that is the only transfer we will get it changed, but the sexton has to do that.”
Gass noted that under the plan, Palmore would not get a new deed.
Vogel said since three lots are involved board action is needed.
“If there had been a need to transfer ownership of one lot, the sexton could do that,” Vogel said. “In this case, the board has to vote on it because the sexton may not have authority to make three changes.”
Vogel also said the city needs to educate the public about the procedure to be used when ownership of cemetery lots changes hands.
“If we want clean records, lot owners have to come to the city and not make changes without letting the sexton know,” Vogel said. “If anyone has issues of ownership they need to bring the record forward.”
On a motion made by Gass and seconded by Reed, the transfer of names on the three grave spaces was unanimously approved.
Mayor Herb Adams directed the staff to complete the transactions sometime in the month of March.
Palmore said he is grateful to the city for taking the action.
“I’m happy to have my two cemetery spaces back,” he said.