Florist suggests new rules for decorations at cemetery

Rule changes may be in store for Oak Grove Cemetery after Emerson Township resident Patty Macha delivered an overhaul-of-the-rules plan to city council Tuesday.

Macha objects to the current cemetery rule that no flowers may be placed on graves from Oct. 15 to Dec. 1.

This means families can’t decorate graves on Thanksgiving weekend, she said. And many seniors have already gone south for the winter by Dec. 1.

“I’m not one to just complain without coming up with a solution,” she said. “I’ve had conversations with other people who say we’ve complained before but nothing gets done. Well, I think something can get done if we all work together.”

Macha’s plan would require summer decorations to be removed by Oct. 1 with fall cleanup to follow through Oct. 15.

She proposed that fall decorations could be placed on Oct. 16 so long as they are attached to tombstones, which wouldn’t interfere with leaf pickup.

Oak Grove Cemetery-12


Winter decorations could then be place as early as Nov. 15, Macha said, and be removed by April 1.

Her spring cleanup period would be April 1-15.

Macha would also permit additional items to be placed on graves up to 60 days after burial to accommodate grieving families.

Macha was critical of the city for selectively enforcing cemetery rules: “If you are enforcing the rules, then you need to enforce all the rules of the cemetery such as no more than four decorative items per grave site,” she said. “There are several sites up there with a ton of stuff on them. No decorative items higher than four feet above ground. That’s another rule that is posted. And there are several tall crosses (at least five feet tall there).”

Macha has a personal interest in the cemetery with a daughter buried there.

As a local a florist, Macha also gets involved in decorating graves for other families.

Although no action was taken regarding Macha’s concerns, her presentation was well received by council. “Patty had very valid points,” said Mayor Jim Kelly. “It would do well for us to look into it.”

“She had a lot of good points,” said Councilman Jerry Church.

Macha left the meeting immediately after speaking so didn’t hear the council comments. But after being told about them, she said by email: “I feel that the city is receptive of my requests and I look forward to working with them in a positive manner.”

Macha owns a business called Flowers by Patty Macha LLC.  It is a home-based floral studio. She specializes in weddings and events. 

Pickup truck

City council voted to approve purchase of a 2019 half-ton Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck with a regular cab, four-wheel drive and an 8-foot box from Lafontaine Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Ram of Lansing to replace a 2008 Dodge Ram half-ton pickup for $20,392. It’s expected to be delivered next spring.

The 2008 truck was totaled in the Martin Chrysler fire. It was the truck DPW Superintendent Mark Abbott drove while on duty and had been in the shop for service at the time of the fire. Insurance covers $11,000 of the replacement cost.

Krapohl Ford of Mt. Pleasant offered a similarly-configured 2019 Ford F-150 for $27,903.

Asked to comment on the difference between the Ford and Dodge trucks, Abbott said “The Ford is a plusher truck. But I don’t need plush.”

Bucket Truck

Council approved purchase of a 2020 “bucket truck” from Altec Industries of Birmingham, Alabama for $274,112.

This was a budgeted item, but city officials expected it to cost $375,000, so the actual price was a pleasant surprise.

The bucket truck is so called because it can extend a “bucket” containing a man as high as 72 feet into the air and as much as 53 feet to the side on the end of two articulating arms. It will be used by St. Louis Electric Department personnel.

The truck will replace a 1991 bucket truck that the Electric Department uses. “Much of the hydraulics and other equipment is original, making it almost 30 years old,” said Public Services Director Keith Risdon in an email. “This truck is used for our pole line and equipment work, tree trimming, street lighting replacements and downtown decorations, so it gets a lot of use.”

Delivery of the new bucket truck is expected in the spring of 2020. The city will likely not be expected to pay for the truck until that time, Risdon said.

Spare Pump

Council approve spending $17,617 on a spare pump from the Vaughn Company for the station that moves prison sewage to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

“prison bar screen” that filters harmful items out of the wastewater that comes into the St. Louis treatment plant from the nearby prison. The cost will be reimbursed by the Michigan Department of Corrections.

According to Hydro Dyne Engineering, wastewater streams from prisons contain “a wide variety of disruptive solids, including contraband, sheets, towels, shoes, clothing and other foreign objects that can potentially damage and overwhelm the treatment process. Without the proper equipment, these materials can dramatically increase system downtime, cause thousands of dollars in damage, and the need to replace costly equipment.”

The St. Louis system blocks such contaminants first with a “bar screen,” then uses a special pump that chops up debris as it works. “Debris that will clog the system will be collected off the bar screen by a mechanical rake into the wet well to be pumped out regularly by a licensed contractor to be disposed of offsite,” Risdon said. “When all of the operations are maintained and functioning, our processes work well. We have had very good results over the years due to constant vigilance by our staff.”

Mayor Pro-Tem Melissa Allen quipped that for $17,617, the new pump “should have chrome on it.”

Play Structure

Council approved payment of $25,000 to Game Time of Holland, Mich. for a new play structure at Leppien Park in the Westgate subdivision south of M-46 and east of the bridge. Half that amount ($12,500) will be paid by the Gratiot County Community Foundation. If you’d like to see the new play structure, just visit the park. It has already been installed.

Police vehicle

Council was asked to approve purchase of an all-wheel-drive 2017 Ford Explorer with 28,000 miles on it from Jim Navarre Ford of Alma for $38,000 to replace one of the police department’s Dodge Chargers. It comes with a three-year, 36,000-mile warranty.

The vehicle in question was used by Navarre as a demo to boost sales to police departments across the state, Police Chief Richard J. Ramereiz Jr. said.

The Gratiot County Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Doug Wright has almost completed a switch to Ford Explorers, Ramereiz said, and Wright raves about their low maintenance cost compared to Dodge Chargers. There was a “dramatic decrease in repair costs,” he said.

Chargers are problematic for police work, Ramereiz said, due to their small size. For example, the “cage” between front seat and back seat reduces the distance that the seat can slide back to accommodate long-legged drivers.

Council told Ramereiz to compare the cost of the used vehicle with that of a new Ford Explorer and report back at a subsequent meeting.


Councilman George Kubin was absent.



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