City crews become cemetery caretakers

Kirksville city employees are taking over care of the city-owned Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery.

The previous contractor was unable to keep up with the massive mowing job and ended its contract with the city late last summer.

That contractor was being paid $9,000 each year.

It will cost the city considerably more than that to do the job, but crews from the Kirksville Public Works Department will do a lot more than just mow the cemetery.

They will also trim trees, repair tombstones and clear brush.

"Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery is aâ?¦community resource. It's a national historic landmark today. It's the final resting place of many distinguished citizens from Kirksville and Adair County. We want to bring it back up to the standard that they deserve," said John Buckwalter, Kirksville public works director.

Buckwalter said over the next five years, the estimated annual cost for the city to take care of Forest-Llewellyn Cemetery will be $20,536.

That includes labor, fuel and two new lawnmowers. Full-time city employees will take care of the cemetery, and two part-time employees will be hired to help during the summer months.

The city is buying two new mowers. One is a zero-turn mower that costs $9,200. The other is a John Deere lawn tractor with a 60" deck. It has a price tag of just over $12,000.

Buckwalter said the city got informal estimates from two local lawn care companies, and both of them would have charged the city around $30,000 a year to do the work.