Placing flowers and benches on grave sites is a common way for people to mourn for and visit with their deceased loved ones.
Recently, on social media, members of the public expressed concern about the United Eagle Butte Cemetery Association’s (UEBCA) maintenance policy for the cemetery in Eagle Butte.
“For a decade, the policy was not enforced. I am just enforcing the policy that the association put in place. That is my job as the caretaker,” said Matthew Shupick, Recorder/Groundskeeper for UEBCA .
When planning a funeral, Shupick is the person family members call to get information about purchasing a burial plot. According to Shupick, he personally meets with family members who are planning a loved-one’s funeral and interment.
“I go over the cemetery policy with them, answering every question they may have. They sign the policy agreement form, and they get a copy of it,” said Shupick.
One of the most common complaints that Shupick encounters is that the policy does not allow planting of flowers directly on the gravesites.
“If families want permanent flowers to grow, they must plant them in cemetery vases that are mounted on a headstone or grave marker,” said Shupick.
According to Shupick, annual cemetery cleaning takes place 2-weeks after Memorial Day, and is normally advertised in the West River Eagle. If family members do not wish for memorial flowers or wreaths to be destroyed, it is their responsibility to pick them up.
As groundskeeper, Shupick mows the cemetery every 2-weeks, depending on weather and grass growth.
“If a lawn mower cannot make it over flowers or any object put at the gravesite, we will remove the object, in accordance with the policy.” said Shupick.
“This policy is in place for maintenance and accessibility of the gravesites,” said Shupick. Citing the policy, “It is necessary for gravediggers to be able to get in between graves with backhoes.”
For these reasons, family members cannot place benches and fences around the gravesite says Shupick.
Shupick was hired as the groundskeeper for the cemetery in 2013.
A copy of the cemetery policy can be picked up at the Sturdevant’s Auto Parts store in Eagle Butte, where Shupick works.
Board members of the United Eagle Butte Cemetery are Clarence Neigel, Chairperson; Mary Rousseau, Vice-Chairperson; Charles Shupick, Secretary; April Anderson, Treasurer; Doyle Simon, Trustee; and Matthew Shupick, Recorder/Groundskeeper.