County to create policy for abandoned cemeteries

By John Holler, Correspondent: At a time when many more people are opting for cremation following death rather than being buried in cemeteries, there remain many thousands of people buried in cemeteries throughout Wright County. However, there are more antiquated church/faith-based cemeteries that have been abandoned, which has been a growing problem that has remained unchecked as to how someone deals with them while respecting the families of the dead buried in them. Discussion of abandoned cemeteries came before the Wright County Board at its July 10 meeting by Commissioner Christine Husom, who was informed of a resident who wants to be buried in an abandoned cemetery that contains numerous family members. In the process, she learned the county board is charged with the authority to deal with issues pertaining to abandoned cemeteries. Assistant County Attorney Brian Asleson said there are state statutes in place for both public and private cemeteries. He added that the number is relatively significant. “I think we’re well into the double figures in abandoned cemeteries (in the county),” Asleson said. “The statutes make it option for counties – say they ‘may’ do this. There is also a statute that says townships may step up if they want to. We’ve got calls before from people who are volunteers, live next store and having been mowing abandoned cemeteries for decades.”

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