Evergreen Cemetery Association - Press Release Aug. 24, 2015

Evergreen Cemetery Association holds annual meeting

Photo of Don Crust, retiring Trustee

Evergreen Cemetery Association, Brainerd, recently held its annual meeting and election with the re-election to the board of John Boeder and John Van Essen to continue for three-year terms. Donald Crust chose to step down leaving a vacancy on the board. Duane Blanck, Gary Bluth, Conrad Bye, Frederick Casey, Denise Blackwell-Kraft and Bruce McComas fill out the board membership. Seeking candidates for board membership continues with the announcement of Don's retirement.

Boeder presented Donald Crust a plaque in appreciation of many years of his dedicated service, devotion and commitment to the cemetery organization.

Karen Lentz, Executive Director, acknowledged the work of prior board members Robert Tusler, John Krueger and Laurie Hall; as well as the late Barbara Gavin, a long time secretary for the Association, who had retired in 2011. She created a computerized index of burials with almost 20,000 records. Lentz reported a long range plan to automate the cemetery records of gravesite locations, lot owners and burials which began with Phase I to create a single database incorporating information from a variety of sources. The data conflicts, complicated legal descriptions and other areas requiring additional research will involve a large amount of individual maintenance.

The Minnesota Association of Cemeteries Conference was held at Hinckley in the fall of 2014 electing Lentz as vice-president. Topics of discussions included the rise in cremations as an alternative choice and how the cemetery/funeral industry is affected by decisions to delay or not bury cremated bodies of loved ones. Evergreen Cemetery Association does provide an option for an above ground inurnment in the columbarium at Memorial Gardens Cemetery. Also, there is a cremation section with smaller lots available at the Evergreen Cemetery.

The Finance Committee reported that the Perpetual Care Fund assets are regularly reviewed and monitored by the committee. They met with bank representatives to review investment performance and earnings and it was determined they still adhere to the investment policy statement approved by the board. Donations from members of the community and revenues from burials and lot sales are in line with expenses.

Highlights from the Grounds Committee report were that there were no major equipment issues. Maintenance staffing remained the same as the past few years and is considered the minimum work force needed to perform maintenance and burial services under the direction of superintendent, Rusty Billman. The Memorial Gardens landscaping Phase 2 was completed with planting in the beds at the entrance. Volunteers are helping with weeding of the new plantings. Ongoing concerns and issues remain with the water system and the asphalt driving surfaces along with upgrading buildings, fencing, equipment and vegetation for both Evergreen and Memorial Gardens cemeteries. A number of donations of labor and services were given by businesses, organizations and individuals enabling improvements to be made at the cemeteries.

Full reports from the Policy and Procedures and Columbarium Committees were received. Changes to the bylaws included expanding burial site ownership requirements for board members. The webmaster reported that web pages for the Columbarium and 2014 Cemetery History Walk were added. The Evergreen cemetery walking tour was held during the city of Brainerd's history week and included interesting markers/monuments of notable pioneers, and Brainerd citizens and leaders buried here. Various members of Find-A-Grave continue to add informative memorials for burials at Evergreen and Memorial Gardens cemeteries. Links to these memorials are found on www.brainerd.net/~evergreencem/.

Boeder thanked all board members and the executive director for their dedicated support in the past year and acknowledged with thanks the donations community members have made to the Evergreen Cemetery Association. People interested in being board members can contact the cemetery office at 218-829-5898 or email evergreencem@brainerd.net.

(Published in the Brainerd Daily Dispatch August 24, 2015)