Local cemetery in Hanover in need of help and funding

Cliff Edwards has been the groundskeeper for Glenwood Cemetery since 1995. He is pictured here with his dog Bella.

HANOVER — Just over 130 years since it was first incorporated, the Silver Creek Cemetery Association, which runs the Glenwood Cemetery, is in danger of financially going under.

“Every cemetery is facing the same situation these days,” Ed Newman, president of the cemetery association told the OBSERVER. “People are not buying cemetery lots. They are using cremation and they’re not even necessarily burying (the ashes), they’re keeping them at home.”

Because a cemetery generates income via lot and burial sales, “without having very many sales we don’t have money to pay a part-time grounds keeper and a part-time secretary/treasurer,” Newman explained.

The secretary/treasurer, Linda Freyberger, is an invaluable part of the association Newman said “because she has to maintain records as a division of secretaries, which is a part of the state of New York.

“They audit us every so often and we have to send them annual reports as to our income. The state gets a portion of everything we take in.”

Newman said that the association doesn’t have control of that money, either.

“We only get interest from our invested money,” he said. “That’s all we can use. The rest of it is called perpetual fund, which is invested. We can only touch the interest on it. Interest rates nowadays are not good, so that’s another part of the problem.”

The foundation is also required to maintain insurance on workers and buildings.

“That’s our dilemma,” said Newman. “We have expenses and we don’t have the income to cover them.”

In order to keep control of the cemetery, the association has reached out to the town of Hanover for financial assistance.

Two weeks ago, Newman turned over copies of the association’s financial and incorporation records.

The council discussed the issue at its last board workshop, where the paperwork was turned over to town attorney Jeffrey Passafaro.

“Under the law, if a cemetery goes belly up, then the town takes it over,” said councilmember Wayne Ashley. “We’d have to keep it up, bury people, the whole thing. We’re trying to see what legal options we have, if we can legally grant financial help.”

Passafaro quoted from the paperwork at the workshop.

“‘The association has inquired and the clerk replies. I have found the incorporation of Silver Creek Cemetery Association recorded in this office July 16, 1887,'” Passafaro read. “Although it’s titled Silver Creek Cemetery Association, it was private and not the village’s”

Councilmember Louis Pelletter reflected on the cemetery’s history pre-incorporation.

“My understanding historically is that the first burials took place in the 1840’s” which were conducted by the First Presbyterian Church. Then, apparently they incorporated privately. It was a church deal, because they had all the church elders in there. Back in those days (before the church took control) they had issues with burials; they buried them up on Middle Road in Sheridan and took some in Pennsylvania Avenue. They had them all over the place. So in 1840, it went to the church area.”

Passafaro told the board that with the request for financial help from the association, Hanover may be able to add it to the town budget.

“I’ll check it out, but the provision in state law allows you to budget, because it ends up in your lap otherwise,” said Passafaro. “Thats a policy matter for the five of you to decide. Like most matters, a policy matter is also a budget matter.”

“We basically have to do something, anyway,” Pelletter said. “It’s our responsibility.”

“I would caution you to read the whole report from the state very carefully,” Passafaro replied before sharing an anecdote about Pomfret and the Forest Hill cemetery.

“That cemetery was located wholly in the village (of Fredonia), so they were the first (to deal with it) and when they punted, which they did, the town got it.”

The town will take the necessary time to look over the paperwork before taking any action.

In the meantime, Newman, on behalf of the Silver Creek Cemetery Association is asking those people with families buried at Glenwood Cemetery to consider donating what money they can.

“I’m sure the public doesn’t know the cemetery’s situation as far as our lack of income,” said Newman. “If they could give donations that could help us maintain our ability to control our own finances. My other idea is, if the town could help us support it without taking it over, that would be better for them.”