The Galena Cemetery dispute has changed the job status of Berkshire Township’s Sexton.
During a packed meeting on Monday, Berkshire Trustees said Larry Buell had been reassigned to the township’s maintenance department, after allegedly being involved with the Galena Cemetery when he was told not to.
The Village of Galena’s website said, “The Cemetery located on Walnut Street is under the jurisdiction of the Board of Berkshire Township Trustees.”
However, trustees said during the meeting that according to state law, “we’re not supposed to have anything to do with the cemetery,” and after 183 years, released ownership to Galena in March 2015. “We’ve been mismanaging the cemetery all these years,” trustee Bill Holtry said at the Aug. 22 meeting.
Last September, Galena filed a lawsuit against the township, saying they do not have the resources to operate a cemetery. Delaware County Common Pleas Court will hear the case in December. In the meantime, a non-profit organization has been formed to care for the cemetery.
Area residents spent half of the hour-long township meeting expressing concerns with whether they would be able to be buried in Galena Cemetery, as well as their support for Buell. One resident went so far as to say the trustees were immoral in their judgments.
Others defended the trustees, saying that they had clearly explained their position at every meeting. The township maintains its own cemetery along routes 36/37 east of Galena Road (across from Bent Tree Golf Course). “Veterans and their families who are laid to rest in Berkshire Cemetery date all the way back to the Revolutionary War,” said the township’s website.
Also discussed at the meeting was the status of the proposed southern interchange. The Tanger Outlet Mall, located in the township, will generate $16.5 million that was initially earmarked for improvements on 36/37 and Interstate 71. The trustees said another developer is proposing to the Ohio Department of Transportation to use that $16.5 million to finance building the southern exit.
In July, the trustees approved a resolution that said they were opposed to the ODOT proposal, and have the money go towards improving the 36/37 and I-71 interchange.
The trustees want to meet with business owners in September to get their input on the project.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.