Supports Riverside Cemetery efforts

In regards to the letter to the editor “Appearance of Riverside Cemetery” on June 5. I believe there’s been a misunderstanding or a lack of information about maintenance at the cemetery. To compare Riverside to Rose Hill is like comparing apples to oranges. Riverside is a much older cemetery with more than 23,000 burials and approximately 20,000 headstones, monuments and large deciduous trees that have to be mowed around and then trimmed. At Rose Hill all headstones are flush with ground, there are few monuments and very few trees. This is a very low maintenance cemetery compared to Riverside.

I agree with authors that there “is no excuse for the way it looked.” The fact is that Mother Nature gave Marshalltown a cold and wet and then a hot end to spring. This weather event delayed mowing, trimming and gathering of leaves, not to mention all the other maintenance responsibilities. The wet ground followed by record high temperatures made for ideal growing conditions for grass and other plants. There was just not enough time before Memorial Weekend to do all the necessary mowing and trimming. Knowing this the general manager, Ms. Tammen, via the T-R asked for volunteers. Fewer than 15 Marshalltownians showed up. A big thank you to those who did. There are more than 90 acres to be mowed and trimmed.

Riverside Cemetery operates on a limited budget and receives no government funds. With more people choosing cremation over burials, future revenues will probably decline. Funds to hire emergency help were not available.

Having taken genealogy workshops at Riverside and knowing Tammen for more than a year, I believe that professionally she is doing the best she can with limited resources. She recently stated that her current staff is made up of some the best employees she’s had over the years. They had put in many hours of overtime prior to the Memorial Weekend, but were overwhelmed by the work that needed to done.

If there’s another harsh spring, I hope that more Marshalltownians will be more understanding and volunteer their time and energy. This is our town, our community and our cemetery. Shouldn’t we support it?