by Laura Bednar
Independence dedicated three new columbarium walls at Maple Shade Cemetery in early August. Each granite wall has 48 niches on either side, for a total of 96, to store urns holding the cremated remains of the deceased. Each 12-by-12-inch niche can hold up to two urns and has a black granite door that can be engraved with a person’s name and birth and death dates.
Economic Development Director Jessica Hyser said there are spaces for another three walls, which the city will move to purchase once the existing niches are bought and filled.
“There will be a total of six eventually,” said Hyser, adding that there are already residents interested and waiting to purchase a niche and hold a burial service.
At the dedication ceremony, Rev. Matt Jordan from St. Michael Catholic Church, Rev. David Wigger, pastor at Independence Presbyterian Church, and Lisa Thomas, pastor at Independence United Methodist Church, each said a prayer blessing the walls. Many city officials and council members were also in attendance.
Hyser said benches would be installed within the next six weeks for visitors to sit at the walls. A gravel strip surrounds each wall for flowers or other items relating to the deceased such as a service medal.
The walls are located on the northeast side of the cemetery in the existing turnaround. Mayor Greg Kurtz said the walls are one phase of a larger part of the cemetery. At its August meeting, city council approved Fabrizi Trucking & Paving Company to perform phase II of the cemetery expansion project for $611,714. Work includes tree clearing, mass grading and drainage work as well as road pavements, which, according to Engineer Don Ramm, will create over 1,400 gravesites, utilizing the western portion of the site. The city’s five-year capital plan shows $650,000 available for the cemetery expansion over the next two years.∞
Photo (main / above): Three columbarium walls were installed in the northeast side of the cemetery and each niche can hold two urns. Photos by Laura Bednar.