City takes over Graceland
Cemetery association dissolved in Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
The city of Clintonville assumed control of Graceland Cemetery after the cemetery association dissolved and transferred all its assets to the city.
At its April 11 meeting, the city council approved a resolution accepting the assets from the cemetery association and assuming control of the cemetery. Ald. Jim Supanich voted against the resolution.
At the same meeting, the council unanimously approved the creation of a special revenue fund designated only for Graceland Cemetery use.
As part of the approval, the cemetery’s perpetuity funds will be placed in this special revenue account, and the funds can only be used for the cemetery. In addition, 15% of all grave sales will be placed in the special revenue account.
A fee schedule for Graceland Cemetery was also unanimously approved by the council.
The council also approved contracting with Tony’s Cemetery Service of New London to take care of the cemetery grounds. A five-year contract was approved, with a starting cost of $5,480 this year, going up to $6,280 in 2027. Supanich abstained from the voted
“Our team did do our due diligence to try and find alternative providers, however, there are none in our geographical area,” City Administrator Casz Muske said.
She added that Graceland Cemetery has worked with Tony’s Cemetery Service in the past, so the city is familiar with their work.
“They’ve been given very positive reviews, so we feel very confident in their capabilities to move forward with what they’ve done and extending with the agreement that is presented in front of you,” Muske told the council.
Ald. Darrell Hansen said the Tony’s Cemetery Service is “very professional” and that he is 100% confident in the company.
“I feel they’re going to do a great job,” Hansen said.
Committee of the Whole
The Committee of the Whole met prior to the council meeting to discuss the cemetery.
Muske told the Committee of the Whole that the Graceland Cemetery Association met on April 10 for its annual meeting and approved to dissolve and transfer all assets to the city of Clintonville.
After conferring with city staff, Muske said she doesn’t have any concerns regarding staff workload with the city taking over the cemetery operations. She added that the city is trying to get in contact with the owner of land next to the cemetery to see if it can purchase land for future cemetery use.
“We have not connected with him yet, so we will continue to try and coordinate that and work through that process, knowing there is a strong feeling from Graceland Cemetery of acquiring more land for the wellbeing of the cemetery,” Muske said.
Ald. Mark Zachow, who represents the city on the cemetery board, also addressed the Committee of the Whole.
“I think the city owes them (cemetery association members) a debt of gratitude for all the time and effort and work that they’ve put into this for so many years,” Zachow said.
Transferring all the records of the cemetery association to the city was one of the concerns expressed by cemetery association members, Zachow said.
Zachow said he is also concerned about the land situation with the cemetery, and recommended more land be purchased for the cemetery.
“We don’t want that opportunity to slip away,” Zachow said. “I think it’s important that we try to purchase, maybe three acres, or somewhere around that to square it off.”
Interest from the cemetery’s perpetuity fund could be used to purchase the land, Zachow said.
“As long as the money is there right now, I think it should be done,” Zachow said.
Later in the meeting Zachow said purchasing land now would help prevent a situation that Hortonville is currently dealing with.
“They’re landlocked now,” Zachow said. “So, all around them, and they cannot expand. And I think if we have the opportunity now, it’s a good idea. And hopefully it will be enough for 40-50 years.”
He added that it is important that the funds currently in the cemetery’s perpetuity account be placed in a separate account, and the funds can only be used for the cemetery.
“I think that’s one of the big concerns of the cemetery association and I think we need to honor that,” Zachow said.
Hansen agreed with Zachow.
“That money was made there, raised there, earned there, that money needs to stay there,” Hansen said. “That money needs to be put in a special account, however earmarked, whatever it takes, to be used at Graceland, and Graceland only. Nothing else. Not for some park, or something else in the city.”