Elkhart to install final resting place for veterans

Truth file photoThe Elkhart City Council met Monday evening at City Hall and appropriated funds to install a new columbarium at the Prairie Street Cemetery and to make repairs to a planter outside The Lerner Theatre.

ELKHART — Installing a new niche columbarium tower at the Prairie Street Cemetery is necessary to continue providing a final resting place for veterans and their spouses in an area that acknowledges their service and sacrifice, according to Elkhart Cemetery Department Head Vicki Edson.

Members of the City Council voted unanimously Monday to appropriate $15,500 from the Cemetery Fund to install the new tower, which will be the fifth of its kind at the cemetery. All existing towers were installed in 2001 and have 72 entombments each. 

The new tower, which will accommodate up to 96 entombments, will allow the city to provide a final resting place for veterans and spouses for another six years, according to Edson, who said there has been an average of 17 entombments per year since 2001.

“We at the Cemetery Department know that we can never fully repay our veterans for their service to our country, however, as a small thank you, the cost of entombment in the niche towers is waived for all veterans,” her letter to the City Council said.

According to Edson, the section of the Prairie Street Cemetery that houses the towers is the only designated veterans section at all three City of Elkhart cemeteries. 

Three companies were asked for quotes on the project. Two of them replied, and the lowest quote was for $15,000, according to Edson’s letter.

Also at Monday’s City Council meeting, the council agreed unanimously to appropriate $15,750 from the General Fund to pay for repairs of a planter outside The Lerner Theatre.

The damage to the planter was caused by two separate motor vehicle incidents, according to Lerner Theatre General Manager Michelle Frank. 

The first incident, in November 2017, involved a Cardinal Bus, according to Frank. The second, in December 2018, was a hit-and-run.

Frank said in a letter to City Council that the city’s legal department is pursuing Cardinal Bus to recover money for the damages from the first incident, but that the appropriation was necessary to allow the theater to make the repairs now.

“Thousands of people will visit downtown Elkhart this summer to attend our growing list of downtown events; and it is important that the city’s crown jewel put its best foot forward,” her letter said.

She hopes to have the planter repaired before the Elkhart Jazz Festival, which begins on June 21. 

If money is recovered from Cardinal Bus, that will be used to reimburse the General Fund for the expenditure, according to Frank. 

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

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