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Atlantic News Telegraph
Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Supervisors, city officials looking at where responsibility for cemetery lies
By Laura Bacon, NT Staff Writer
Published: Tuesday, October 30, 2007 9:02 AM CDT

ATLANTIC - Who should be responsible for Southlawn Memorial Gardens Cemetery is a question that has both Cass County and city of Atlantic officials doing legal research. The property, located on South Olive Street, is partly owned by the Southlawn Memorial Gardens Corporation, and partly by the Jean Broderson estate, and volunteers who have been helping maintain the property have asked the Cass County Supervisors to find out who is responsible for the property.

The property, which had been located in Cass County, was annexed some time ago by the city of Atlantic.

Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner said at the last supervisors meeting that he had been doing some legal research through the Iowa Attorney General’s office, and then through the Iowa Insurance Division.

Feistner said he had talked with Dennis Britson from the Iowa Insurance Division who said Southlawn “didn’t seem to be an operating cemetery.”

Feistner said he asked Britson what the division’s legal opinion was regarding who would have responsibility for taking care of the property. He told the supervisors Britson said “in our division’s legal opinion,” that the City of Atlantic would have the responsibility to preserve and protect the property as a cemetery, citing an amendment to Iowa Code.

The code says governmental agencies have a “duty to protect and preserve” cemeteries or burial sites located “within its jurisdiction, for which preservation is not otherwise provided, (and) shall preserve and protect the cemetery or burial site as necessary to restore or maintain its physical integrity as a cemetery or burial site.”

Feistner said the code “places a burden on government agencies to make sure (abandoned cemeteries) are taken care of.”

The supervisors said they planned to talk to city officials about the cemetery to make sure something was worked out to make sure the cemetery was taken care of.

On Friday, City Administrator Ron Crisp said city officials had seen some emails about the property, and that Brian Daiker, the city attorney, was researching the issue as well.

“After we get some research done,” Crisp said, “We’ll take it to a council work session,” he said, noting that would probably be sometime “next month.”

“We’ll have to put it on the work session agenda,” he said.

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