West Tisbury to set cemetery records straight
The West Tisbury selectmen may have finally worked out a solution to the town cemetery record-keeping quagmire.
At their Sept. 13 meeting, the selectmen approved a $1,300 allocation for cemetery records software and appointed Brian Athearn as assistant cemetery superintendent, to help collect and organize the records.
Selectman Glenn Hearn recommended the actions based on a meeting he and his wife, Linda, had earlier with cemetery superintendent John Alley. It was Mr. Hearn's first meeting with Mr. Alley after Mr. Alley was reappointed to his position following several months of discussion and criticism of Mr. Alley, a county commissioner and former West Tisbury selectman, over his alleged lagging record keeping.
Mr. Hearn indicated that Mr. Alley was reluctant to get involved in the computerized record keeping. Mr. Athearn, who runs a computer business, is the veterans graves officer and a member of the town finance committee. He volunteered to "capture the data" for the new database.
Mr. Alley will continue to carry out his other cemetery duties, as well as assist with updating the records, Mr. Hearn said.
Mr. Athearn will not be paid for his services. With Mr. and Mrs. Hearn's help, he will start the records processing by checking the gravesites in the West Tisbury's cemeteries and matching them with cemetery deed and ledger books, Mr. Hearn said.
Mr. Hearn said he recommended the software program from Legacy Mark after trying it out. He called it "a very friendly system." The company has been in business for 20 years, and a contract will include consultations with the person who designed the program, he said.
The $1,300 allocation would include an $800 license for use on one computer terminal, $161 for one year of maintenance and $260 for four hours of training over the phone. He suggested the funding could come from an existing trust fund or a reserve fund. The selectmen's approval was contingent on checking the funding sources.
Mr. Hearn said the town clerk's computer would be used to store the cemetery records.
Selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter asked about public access to the records once they are in the town system.
"I want to make sure there is some way for the public to access (the records) without bothering a town employee."
Mr. Hearn said he believed that access, plus safeguards on the records, could be worked out.