A mortuary operator, who has been in a four-year dispute with the city of Pacific over grave occupancy in the city cemetery, may get his say in a committee meeting with two aldermen.
Jeff Palmore, who owns and operates Bell Funeral Home, said he purchased two gavesites in the city cemetery when he purchased the funeral home.
Byron Bell, former owner of the mortuary, had purchased the sites from the late August Bruns Sr. who served as cemetery sexton for several decades. It later turned out that the two gravesites were occupied, said Palmore, who wants the city to take his deeds, give him his money back or give him two unoccupied graves.
However, the issue is more complicated than that, according to Palmore. He wants the same remuneration for others who have purchased gravesites that were already occupied.
Palmore contends that during the years that Bruns served as sexton, he bought and sold some gravesites that were already occupied. Palmore wants city officials to look at records he has uncovered and determine who owns the graves.
Mayor Herb Adams and City Attorney Dan Vogel said the city should not respond to the request. Vogel argued that Palmore has sued the city with the same claims and three different judges had ruled against him.
Palmore said Vogel is not accurate in describing the court’s findings.
Vogel advised aldermen not to meet with Palmore before requiring him to put his claim in writing, but Alderman Ed Gass said it made sense to listen to Palmore’s claim.
“I don’t see (any) harm in having a meeting and let him explain it,” Gass said. “If he bought some lots and someone else had owned them, then give him his money back or give him new lots.”
Alderman Mike Bates agreed with Gass, saying he would like to hear a full accounting of Palmore’s claims.
“I think we have the opportunity to let cooler heads prevail,” Bates said. “I’d like to have a fact-finding meeting and put things to bed. We could have a work session or work meeting that focuses on the cemetery and see what is wrong.”
The two aldermen said they would be willing to sit down and listen to Palmore in an informal setting.
Adams said he would send the matter to committee and asked Gass which committee he preferred. Gass said the public works committee, which probably included the city cemetery.
Adams told Palmore that he would be notified when the committee would meet.