After visiting with several people and receiving several anonymous letters, as the president of the St. Thomas Parish cemetery board, I thought I would try to shed a little light on the caretaking of the cemetery.

The concerns were about the terrible condition of the lawn and not having the flags displayed by the grave sites on Memorial Day. I was out there and I totally agree that with all the dandelions, it was not a pretty sight.

The cemetery board is made up of five parishioners; having a grave site out there is required to be a member of the board. Presently, the members are Charlotte Groce, John Minnaert, Tim Higgins, our new member Scott Williams and myself.

Next time you see Joan Janous, thank her for all the countless hours she spent on the board, serving for 12 years. Her husband Francis was caretaker for four years. Joan's meticulous treasury work and bookkeeping were invaluable.

No one cares for having the flags out more than I do. As a Vietnam vet, who spent a year in a MASH unit caring for the wounded and dying, honoring the flag and those who died for it is a great priority. So why were they not out? The weekend forecast was for rain, and it did rain twice.

The board doesn't want to have the flags get wet. Also, when the flag sticks get wet, they swell and it is difficult getting them out of the holders.

Last year was a tough year for maintenance, as we all know, because of the weather, but we did manage to get some things accomplished.

We spent $10,000 removing the wrought iron fence in front of the cemetery and having it sandblasted and painted. We spent another $10,000 resurfacing and repairing the road heading into the cemetery. Approximately $5,000 was spent for tree-related issues. We pay our caretaker $6,000 over five months, along with gas and equipment maintenance charges, etc.

It is kind of ironic that these comments never include any finances. Where do all these caring people think the finances come from to keep it up as we all would like?

I received two letters today from people who also felt the cemetery looked terrible. They included a nice note and each individual included a check for $500. Thank you Dick and Bev Casey and Ted and Kathy Weiland for your generous contribution. It was very much appreciated.

In closing, I can tell you the weeds are being sprayed this week. Even though it doesn't always look like it, we are trying and do care.

You can give me a call anytime. My phone number is in the telephone book. I will always be happy to have a friendly conversation and do my best to answer questions. The other board members will also be happy to help.

If anyone would like to be on the board, please let me know, as I have more than enough to keep me busy. I would be happy to give up my job.

I understand everyone's concern as it is our cemetery and we all care.

Take care and God's blessings,

Darrel Simon

Madison, June 1