Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Life of the grounds crew during the winter

Patrick Lewis,
Grounds Manager,
Sunset Memorial Park
You might think that because it is cold outside, cemetery grounds crews don’t keep busy during the winter months. That couldn't be father from the truth. In Illinois, our winters are far from tropical. We see many snowy days and below zero temperatures. But, that doesn’t stop us from taking care of the cemetery and the families we serve.

The life of a grounds crew during the winter consists of three things:
  1. Plowing, plowing and plowing. It is very important to us, as well as to the families that visit our cemetery, that everyone has a safe, clear path to walk and drive down when visiting a loved one. So, when there is snow on the ground, we must make sure the roads are cleaned off. 
  2. Maintaining vehicles. We have a number of different vehicles or machines that we use during the summer. It is the perfect time to change the oil, sharpen blades and do general maintenance. This makes sure they are in tiptop shape when the snow melts. 
  3. Serving families. Families don’t only lose loved ones in the warm months. Digging graves can prove to be more work during the winter when the ground is frozen, but that is why we use a propane ground thawer. It takes more time to dig a grave this way, but at the rate of an inch an hour, it’s easier than trying to dig it with a shovel. We do have to keep a close eye on existing markers. If the space has one, we have to remove the marker before we begin thawing the ground. If we don’t, we run the risk of burning the marker, which means it will need to be refinished. 
When visiting a cemetery in colder weather, remember, we are still outside braving the frigid temperatures to make the grounds as safe and beautiful as we do in the summer.

This article originally appeared in Modern Memorialization, Trigard Memorials' weekly electronic newsletter featuring information for the funeral industry. Sign up for your free subscription at http://www.trigard.com/thursdays.

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