Colfax gives go-ahead for CHS student to design “spreading garden”

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  Although a “spreading garden” for cremains has been part of the concept for Colfax Evergreen Cemetery for several years, the garden has never been designed and built.

The Colfax Village Board’s parks committee at the March 20 meeting authorized Mark Mosey, Colfax High School biology teacher and advisor for the National Honor Society, to approach a Colfax High School student who is working on a project and needs a landscaping design as part of her portfolio to at least create an initial design for the spreading garden.

The idea would be to fence in the spreading garden and then have it planted with natives grasses and wildflowers, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.

The spreading garden should also have a walkway and benches for visitors to the cemetery, she said, adding that whatever is planted in the garden should not be a high maintenance plant.

The spreading garden will be on the northeast side of the existing cemetery and is 49 feet wide by 166 feet long.

Niggemann said she envisioned a gate on both ends to allow people to walk through the spreading garden on a path.

Mosey said the soil in the cemetery is quite sandy, but Rand Bates, director of public works, said the village has a stockpile of black dirt and that adding soil to the spreading garden would not be a problem.

Out of deference to the cremains spread in the garden, committee members agreed the planted grasses should not be of a kind that would need to be mowed.

Niggemann said she has been doing some research about spreading gardens and discovered most of them set a limit on the amount of any individual cremains that can be sprinkled on the garden.

Most of the spreading gardens only allow two tablespoons of cremains, she said.

The spreading garden should have a plaque as well that lists the names of the people who have been sprinkled on the garden, Niggemann said.

Spreading gardens typically charge a fee, too, she said, adding that the fee, which would be set by the village board, could be used to offset the maintenance of the garden and to purchase additional name plaques as necessary.

Mosey said the Colfax High School student with whom he has been in contact is taking a design class with Lisa Neuburg, the Family and Consumer Science teacher at CHS, and also is a member of the National Honor Society and would need to fulfill a community service requirement.

Committee member Scott Gunnufson said he liked the idea of a student designing the spreading garden.

Mosey said he would take the student to Colfax Evergreen Cemetery so she could see the space that she would be designing and also would find out a time frame for the design. 

Fence 

Parks committee members briefly discussed replacing the fence along the front side of the cemetery.

Replacing the fence was discussed several years ago, but the work was never done, Niggemann pointed out. 

The fence, located on the entry side of the cemetery, is a picket fence, and the village’s ordinances do not allow picket fences, she said.

Mark Halpin, village trustee and chair of the parks committee, wondered if the cemetery fence could be done as a class project. 

Six-month license

Jeff Prince, president of the Colfax Softball Association, asked at a previous parks meeting about obtaining a six-month temporary picnic license for CSA to cover the softball season.

Because of the time frames needed for publishing the notice and putting the item of a picnic license on the agenda for the village board, obtaining the picnic license before each tournament run by the Colfax Softball Association can be difficult, he said.

Niggemann reported that an official with the Department of Revenue said six-month temporary picnic licenses cannot be approved under state law but the Colfax Softball Association could apply for a six-month regular Class “B” fermented malt beverage license.

The six-month license can be issued at any time for six months during a calendar year, although the six-month license is not renewable during the calendar year in which it was issued. 

If the Colfax Softball Association obtained a six-month license in April or May, the license would cover the association’s softball season.

The parks committee unanimously approved a motion to recommend that the Colfax Village Board approve a six-month license.

In addition to Halpin and Gunnufson, Village Trustee Carey Davis also serves on the parks committee.