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Shelton Mason County Journal
Shelton, Washington
Mason County Journal
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August 21, 2014     Shelton Mason County Journal
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August 21, 2014

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Thursday, Aug. 21,2014 -Mason County Journal- Page A-3 Nonprofit seeks to lease unused land By GORDON WEEKS gordon@masoncounty, corn The increasing popularity of cremation over full burial is leaving acres of untouched ground at Shelton Memorial Park, the nonprofit cemetery in the Mountain View neighbor- hood. "At least 11 acres are sitting there, idle, where there's no plans for cemetery places, may- be for a hundred years," said Robert Shaw, the president of the cemetery's board of direc- tors. "I'd like to see that prop- erty generating money." Shaw said he can imagine those unused acres hosting a Christmas tree farm or a shrub- bery business, "something that would not be a big investment in buildings." "There's got to be something that could be utilizing this space, even if it's just some sort of garden that supports food programs," he said. Shaw added, "I'm sure some- one's got an idea that's reason- able. I don't want to see a (pub- lic) cemetery district set up and the taxpayers picking up the burden." The cemetery property, at the intersection of Van Buren and C Streets, is zoned neigh- borhood residential, said Steve Goins, the city of Shelton's di- rector of community and eco- nomic development. Journal photo by Gordon Weeks About 12,000 bodies are buried at the nonprofit cemetery Shelton Memorial Park, but the number of new arrivals is slowing down because of the increasing popularity of cremation. Among the allowed uses deciding if this is an accessory ciation was formed about 1910. would be agricultural uses not use or note," Goins wrote in an The board members who repre- involving retail sales, Goins email to the Journal. "I'm not sent the founding groups and said. The city's municipal code sure just how large the prop- the public are unpaid. states that on lots or parcels of erty is and how much would be The park has three full-time 1 acre or more, poultry and/or dedicated to agricultural uses." employees, two groundskeep- livestock can be kept, providing The original section of theers and a secretary. the livestock does not exceed one cemetery, was established by About 12,000 bodies are for each half acre. The zoning the Masonic Lodge about 1887, buried at the cemetery, but the also allows for accessory uses followed by sections openednumber of new arrivals is slow- and buildings, "complimentary by the American Legion and ing down. to the basic architectural char- Veterans of Foreign Wars, the "The general trend is crema- acter of the main building on Catholic Church and the Inde- tion, and that's the way it is the lot," according to the code. pendent Order of Oddfellows. with other cemeteries," Shaw "Assuming no on-site retail The Mason County public sec- said. sales are being considered, it tion had its first burial in 1889. The cemetery had 37 full would seem the key issue is The Shelton Cemetery Asso- burials and 48 cremations in 2011, 33 full burials and 54 cre- mations in 2012 and 42 full buri- als and 46 cremations in 2013. So far this year, it has had 14 full burials and 47 cremations. The expense of full burials is one factor, Shaw said. And when bodies are cremated, most of the ashes aren't in- terred in cemeteries, he said. "They end up in the river, over steel bridges, you name it," he said. A vote to create a public cemetery at Shelton Memo- rial Park failed by a few hun- dred votes a few years ago, and Shaw said he is fine with that result. "I would rather see the cem- etery stay private and find another income to support the cemetery," he said. When the cemetery sells a plot, it is required to pay 15 per- cent of it to the state to cover the operations of the facility when the cemetery is full, Shaw said. That endowment has reached about $500,000, he said. "We cannot touch that mon- ey until the cemetery is full, which might not happen," said Dustee Sage, the cemetery's secretary. The association received an anonymous donation of $100,000 in January, Shaw said. Donations can be made by contacting the cemetery at 426- 2152. Civil War veterans are bur- ied in the cemetery. "There's a lot of history here," Sage said. "There's a lot of people in the community who love this place." 11 . Sunday a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday 8e Tuesday Wed. - Sun. from 2:30- 4:30 110 S. First St, Shelton, WA 98584 360-426-1421 * * * 360-426-1456 | uction Services coming this September Live Recording - Audio/Video Production Studio 205 West Cota St. Shelton, WA 360-432-0784 jamesjohnsonproduction.com- jjrecording @gmail.com