Sunday, June 04, 2006

We Did NOT make it!

We Did not make it!Too Much work, too little time, I guess. We just couldn’t get everything done this year. We even had two members of our Board of Directors trying to help out but it wasn’t enough. Normally we would have had four people on staff and another two or three temporaries to help out until Memorial Day is over. When we started here, 10 years ago, there were 7 full time employees involved with the maintenance. Today there is two of us. Money is the operative word here and the Cemetery does not have it anymore. A new state Veterans Cemetery, a few miles away, has really causes us to have a shortfall of cash. They have taken about 25% of our burials, which is our operating capital, and another 25% of our preened sales. All of the cemeteries in the area are feeling the pinch. Our board has chosen to react to the shortfall by cutting staff. Two of us manage to get the grass cut, the burials completed and the maintenance but we can’t handle the extras. My wife helps us out as she can but she is still recuperating from cancer surgery and really shouldn’t be doing it. She has always been our fastest and best weed trimmer operator but she has been mowing, part time, instead. It is a double edged sword because when she mows the office ceases to function and all of the record keeping just piles up, plus there is no one to do the genealogies, show people where their family graves are and sell the lots. Our biggest shortfall this year is our planting areas at our four gates and special area within the cemetery didn’t happen plus about 50%, or 28.5 acres, didn’t get weed whacked.It takes two mowers three days to do the cemetery. It takes two men 4 days to weed whack the cemetery. There in lies the problem. Weed whacking! It is almost impossible to keep a person full time weed whacking. We have had two really good employees, hired at different times, to run a string trimmer and they have managed to keep up. Both of them quit, after a while, and both had long-term problems with their hands. Seems the hands go numb after a while. Took months for both of them to get the feeling back. Some cemeteries solve the problem by applying a weed poison around the stones so weed trimming isn’t necessary. Some cemeteries have a formalized program and very structured, hiring only college summer help. Some cemeteries have a high wage scale for the job. Who knows but I think it will be a summer of trial and effort.Anyway, we have to rethink this whole Memorial Day thing. We need to scale back, start earlier in the year, or find a way to hire a third person. It is over for another year and we survived though somewhat tattered and battered for the experience. Time to get back to some serious blogging.

1 comment:

keewee said...

There is so much more to taking care of a cemetery than I thought, in fact I hadn't thought much about all the work involved at all. I see a person mowing the grass and trimming the shrubs in the small cemetery we drive by each day.
Thanks to you, for your story, I now appreciate all the hard work which goes on to keep the cemeterys looking nice, especially the large ones.Thank you.