Source: Sherman Publications

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Township forms cemetery board
Historic Mt.Bethel Cemetery closed in township

by David Fleet

July 10, 2013

Groveland Twp.- On Monday the township board of trustees established a cemetery board. Supervisor Bob DePalma was absent.

The board is needed to oversee two township cemeteries— Mt. Bethel (Jossman Road) and Olive Branch Cemetery North Holly Road on the southwest corner of the township. The Olive Branch Cemetery has about 200 graves, some dating back to about 1850, and includes Civil War era markers. According to Michigan Compiled Laws, if the cemetery is not owned by an association, it then becomes the responsibility of the township to properly take care of the property.

The Hadley and Ortonville cemeteries, also located in the township, operate under associations.

"Due to age and vandalism of the stones, the burial sites needed to be updated," said Pam Mazich, township clerk.

Volunteers worked with the township to match burial sites with spaces available at the Mt Bethel Cemetery.

"We voted to close the Mt. Bethel Cemetery since there's just so many old graves and many of the stones have been either stolen or are in such poor condition that we're not positive of the position of the grave. If there were vacancies we're just not sure if new graves would encroach onto others."

Mazich said that if an individual comes forward with a burial certificate for Mt. Bethel and it could be clearly determined that a plot is open, the board would reopen the cemetery.

"We have to do what's right for the cemetery," she said. "However, there are plots in the Olive Branch Cemetery for township residents."

An ordinance and burial fees were also established for the cemeteries.

The township set the new fees at $400 for a single plot and $1,000 for an 8-by-20 plot. A $50 administration fee was added. The board also OK'd a new sign for Mt. Bethel Cemetery.

"The upkeep is very costly," she added. "The cemeteries require mowing and trimming each week—our cost can exceed $1,400 per month."

The new township cemetery board includes Dave Ax, Pam Mazich, Jim Weil, Kathy Westfall, and Joean Davis.