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City of Plattsmouth

PLATTSMOUTH – Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis on Tuesday said that the recent removal of decorations around headstones in Oak Hill Cemetery that brought concerns from some residents had to be done for proper maintenance on the grounds.

Nevertheless, he apologized for poor communication to residents prior to city workers taking that action.

“I didn’t communicate it well,” Portis said on Tuesday. “We should have figured out a way to inform the public. I apologize.”

Portis said he and the City Council had discussions last fall about the cemetery becoming more and more difficult to maintain because of graveside decorations. Those discussions came about in part from public concerns.

“We took criticism last year that it didn’t look good,” Portis said. “There are 16,000 headstones out there and 2,000 or more of them were surrounded by multiple pieces of decoration.”

One headstone had as many as 17 decorative pieces, he added.

This was making lawn mowing on the grounds not only difficult, but dangerous for workers, Portis said.

“Our guys were hit by shrapnel,” he said. “We were asking them to perform a dangerous job. Maintaining that cemetery was taking four or five times longer than it should.”

The city also has a law that all cemetery decorations must be removed by April 1 of each year.

“We have to enforce rules if people expect us to do a good job,” Portis said.

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