The May 19 edition of the Granite State News carries a front page headline: “Tuftonboro Selectmen Cede Authority for all Cemetery Operations to Trustees.”
The Selectmen never had authority, under the law, for the operation of town cemeteries, and therefore can not be said to have ceded that power. Indeed, Selectmen Bill Marcussen is quoted as saying, during the impromptu May 13 meeting, “The cemetery trustees have clear authority.” This is clear under a plain reading of the law. I don’t claim to be a legal expert, however, and have always stated that I could have been wrong about the law. The selectmen have now essentially acknowledged, however, that they agree with my interpretation of the law.
And yet, the selectmen appear to have asked Cory Hunter to do more work at the Town House Cemetery.
The Granite State News reports, “Selectman Lloyd Wood asked that Hunter be contacted to take care of the cemeteries at least through Memorial Day in honor of the holiday, and he has agreed.” Contacted by who? The May 13 meeting’s minutes (currently in draft form, subject to revision) state, “it was agreed by the Board of Selectmen to ask Mr. Hunter to mow the cemetery at the Town House in time for Memorial Day before completely removing himself from cemetery maintenance.” If Selectmen asked that the cemetery trustees contact Mr. Hunter, then that is fine. If “it was agreed by the Board of Selectmen to ask Mr. Hunter to mow the cemetery at the Town House,” then that is not fine, by the selectmen’s own admission.
No one is against, certainly I am not, maintaining the cemeteries, especially in advance of Memorial Day. That is not the issue. The issue has always been whether the selectmen had the authority to direct the maintenance of the cemeteries. That is no longer in question. The town’s attorney, Rick Sager, has advised the selectmen to follow the law. Selectmen Marcussen has stated that the cemetery trustees have the authority. Selectmen Carolyn Sundquist has acknowledged that no contract exists between the town and Mr. Hunter.
N.B.: The Granite State News printed my letter (“Why It’s Important“), but accidentally cut off the final paragraph and didn’t give me attribution. Amusingly the letter directly below mine is from Barry Ennis, criticizing the paper for a layout error in last week’s addition.