Officials of the Village of Galena are picking up the pieces since Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge David M. Gormley ruled the Galena Cemetery belongs to the village.
“We’re moving forward with the cemetery business,” said Jeanna Burrell, village administrator. “We’re now in the cemetery 101 phase because none of us have experience with cemeteries.”
Burrell said the village will not have the records of the cemetery until Gormley’s ruling Dec. 6.”It has to do with contract law,” she said.
Berkshire Township had owned and operated the cemetery for 183 years, but released ownership of it to Galena, citing a state law. The village filed a complaint September 2015 and the township filed a counterclaim in December.
“Because Galena Cemetery is located in the Village of Galena, the title to, right of possession, and responsibility for the maintenance and care of Galena Cemetery is vested in the Village of Galena,” Gormley wrote in his ruling Sept. 16.
The Village of Galena was incorporated as a municipality in 1920.
In the mean time Burrell said Galena is moving forward with running the cemetery.
According to Burrell, the village council approved resolutions hiring Larry Buell as a cemetery consultant, created a cemetery fund and transferred money into it. “We’re setting up a committee on what decisions we need to make or how we’re going to run this cemetery,” Burrell said. “We have set up the fees and rules so far.”
Burrell said the village is applying for a license from the State of Ohio. “Everybody thinks it’s so simple,” she said. “It’s not.”
Over the last year since while waiting on Gormley to rule on the ownership of the cemetery Burrell said there had been some burials. “We worked with Berkshire Township through attorneys for the burials,” she said. “The funeral homes contracted out to dig the grave.”
In past reports from The Gazette, Galena officials have said they do not have the resources to operate and maintain the cemetery. “At the moment we’re contracting with excavators from around the county to dig the graves,” Burrell said.
Burrell said that Charlie Chandler, who died last Tuesday, will be the first person to officially be buried by Galena.
She said Chandler was a resident of Galena since 1962 and had served on the village police and fire departments. While serving as the police chief, he founded the first drug task force in Delaware County.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.