Mt. Pleasant Council considers contracting cemetery care

MT. PLEASANT—The Mt. Pleasant City Council heard a recommendation on the city cemetery, approved a contingent contract for the drilling of a new well and adopted an ordinance at its last meeting.

In the fall, Pam Stoker complained about the condition of the Mt. Pleasant City Cemetery. She was back Tuesday, April 27. She proposed that the city use perpetual care money and contract the job out to a third party to take care of the cemetery—to do things like watering, weeding, mowing and fertilizing.

Rhett Wilkinson / Messenger Photo
Selena Matthews poses for a photo shortly after being recognized by Mt. Pleasant Mayor Michael Olsen as the Citizen of the Month for April 2021.

“I don’t think that the city crew has enough time to … maintain the cemetery,” Stoker said, noting later that just one section of the cemetery had been mowed. Councilman Kevin Stallings later said that the public works department, which is responsible for the cemetery, is “shorthanded” and that the department advertised to hire workers, but “There are no people available.”

Public Works Superintendent Colter Allen said his department has just one mower and that’s why the cemetery was not fully mowed.

Stoker also brought up broken headstones in the cemetery. She said that while Mayor Michael Olsen told her that the headstones are the responsibility of the family, “It is the city that hired the people who broke the headstones.”

“I know that none have been fixed in the past year,” Stoker said, noting that broken headstones were laid against other headstones, the sandstone they are made of broken into four.

“I don’t want to see things not done,” Stoker said. “I think we need to step up … it doesn’t need to look like that.”

Allen said he had done research on the sandstone headstones and talked to a historical association. It led him to say that the headstones are “not repairable.”

“Once water gets in, it crumbles sandstone,” Allen said.

Stoker had Councilman Justin Atkinson’s support. Atkinson called the cemetery “the jewel of our community” and “there are a lot of emotions and feelings attached to it.”

“I hear your sentiments and I agree,” Atkinson said.

Councilman Russ Keisel said that $37,500 was budgeted in public works for the cemetery.

Stoker’s response?

“Contract it out,” she said.

Stoker said to visit the cemetery and then visit other cemeteries and you would see the difference in quality.

Atkinson noted that other cities have a road and water department and that Mt. Pleasant doesn’t have the tax base that other cities have.

“We have to figure out alternatives, so I think that’s our job as a council to determine what those alternatives [are],” Atkinson said. “There’s more than one way to skin a cat.”

Councilman Kevin Stallings asked Stoker how she felt the cemetery compared to five or six years ago.

“It was better five or six years ago,” Stoker said. “Because it was being sprayed, you didn’t have the thistles growing and the noxious weeds.”

“I am saying I know they are busy,” Stoker said, referring to the public works department employees. “This is probably why you need to sub this out.”

Well contract

Also in the meeting, the council approved $668,480 for a contract for an Arizona company to drill a new well in town.

The approval was contingent on Devan Shields, a project manager with Sunrise Engineering, reviewing the Arizona company’s references and doing a background check. Atkinson, a Sunrise employee, abstained on the vote.

The well has been in the works after the city got funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in late September.

The well is located by the city’s acid house.

Shields told the council that bids were due that day for the drilling. The company will do a “pilot well,” Shields said.

The fact that the company is from Arizona sparked some questions from the council. That included Atkinson asking “Is everybody [more local] busy?”

“That’s what it sounds like,” Shields said.

Atkinson later asked if the company had done any projects in Utah. Shields said they haven’t; they have done projects in Colorado, besides Arizona.

The Arizona company cannot start until July, but with “the total project timeline,” Shields doesn’t believe that delay will set Sunrise back, he said.

“With the amount of growth we are having, time is of the essence to get some … culinary water,” Councilman Rondy Black said.

Utility account collection

In other meeting action, the council passed an ordinance “providing for the collecting of utility accounts,” according to the meeting agenda, and repealing another ordinance.

Black said it is “fair to the customer but also gives the city some protection.”

City Recorder Jeanne Tejada said she had not sent the ordinance to Kevin Daniels, city attorney.

Citizen of Month

Also in the meeting, the council recognized Selena Matthews as the citizen of the month for April 2021.

“We’d like to thank you for all of the work that you are doing,” Olsen said before stating that he would like to see more people volunteer in the city.

“I’d like to see more people recognized,” he said.

Dogs on city property

In other meeting action, Allen asked the council on how to handle dogs on city property, noting that some parks do not even allow dogs.

“Don’t allow dogs or put those dog doodoo stations up,” Stallings said.

Claudia Jarrett, a meeting attendee, said that she is a dog owner and takes a doggie bag with her to clean up after her dog.

“Some of us are responsible dog owners,” she said before asking why they should be penalized.

“Think seriously about this,” Jarrett said.

Stallings then said that he believes that the city needs a sign that says that you need to have your dog on a leash. That was followed by Mt. Pleasant Police Chief Jim Wilberg saying that city ordinance states that a dog must be on a leash.

“I walk my dog on a walking trail, but it needs to be on a leash,” Allen said.

Olsen asked if the council was in agreement of no dogs on the city soccer field. The council appeared to agree.

Transformer on the way

Also in the meeting, Power Superintendent Shane Ward said the shipping date for a new transformer for the city was moved from May 11 to May 24. The power department has needed to borrow a transformer from Fairview since the department’s $500,000 transformer blew on Aug. 18.