When Ridge Cemetery Sexton Jeff Hively digs graves, he uses a 1960s log-loading apparatus on a 1997 truck.
That’s about to change.
In January, the Fremont City Council approved the purchase of a new Bobcat Compact Mini Excavator to dig graves at the city-owned cemetery.
The excavator was ordered Feb. 1 and it will take six to eight weeks for delivery, said Kim Koski, director of the Fremont Parks and Recreation Department, who requested the purchase.
Koski said the excavator will do the job more efficiently and safely.
The mini excavator, which costs $37,547 will be purchased from Titan Machinery, Inc., of Fremont through a state contract.
By using the state contract, the city can use its purchasing pool of vendors. Bids weren’t obtained due to use of the state contract.
Without using the state contract, the retail price of the mini excavator would have been $62,355.
Hively explained that the State of Nebraska negotiates prices with different manufacturers for vehicles and heavy equipment.
The city can take advantage of that to get the best price.
In her report to the council, Koski said the mini excavator will be more maneuverable and is the appropriate piece of equipment needed to dig graves.
It was time for an upgrade.
The old apparatus was a retired piece of equipment from the parks and recreation’s forestry department and was designed to load logs into a truck after the city cuts down trees.
Now more than 40 years old, it is worn out, Hively said.
The new excavator is much lighter than the truck so if the ground is soft after a rain there will be less wear and tear on the turf.
It will be more maneuverable as well.
“That truck is so big that in some of the older parts of the cemetery, sometimes I have a hard time getting that big truck in between the headstones to get to the gravesite,” Hively said. “The mini excavator is much smaller and I’ll be able to get into a lot tighter areas.”
Hively said the parks’ maintenance division also will get a lot of use out of the mini excavator when it’s not in use at the cemetery.
“The priority is for Jeff to dig graves, but when he doesn’t have a grave to dig if they need to dig up some irrigation, do any type of digging, it will be available to share within the department,” Koski said.
Ridge Cemetery at 1761 W. Linden Ave., is comprised of 30 acres of land has more than 13,000 graves with room for 40,000 more.