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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Following the death of Tony Braaten in February, the Colfax Village Board has hired a new caretaker for Evergreen Cemetery in Colfax.
The village board approved hiring Ron Brantner at the March 22 meeting.
Rand Bates, director of public works, said he had talked to a man from Menomonie who was willing to do the cemetery caretaker work for the same hours and rate of pay as Braaten had received.
Gary (“Tony”) Braaten died February 2 at the age of 76.
According to his obituary, Braaten graduated from Colfax High School, where he was a star football player who once, as the story goes, played in a football game with a broken arm and caught the winning touchdown. Braaten also was an avid Packer and Brewer fan.
Many people also can probably recall seeing Braaten around town on his lawnmower, headed out to cut the grass at Evergreen Cemetery.
In addition to hiring Brantner, the Colfax Village Board also approved designating Don Berg of Berg’s Bobcat Service to excavate and cover all of the graves at Evergreen Cemetery.
Bates will mark the cemetery lots before Berg excavates.
Don Berg had been helping Tony Braaten over the years, and he said he was willing to take over digging the graves, Bates said.
The lots have to be marked, and the last one was kind of a problem, Bates noted.
As is true of most cemeteries that have been around for a while, not everything is exactly where it is expected to be.
Sometimes you think the grave is in one direction or another, because the grave stone is in one location or another, but when you probe, you find the vault in a somewhat different location, Bates said.
The funeral home directors work with the village on both casket and cremation burials, said Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer.
Prior to any arrangements for burial, the map at the office is consulted, then the lot is inspected visually. There are several meetings before anything is done at the cemetery, she said.
A meeting with a funeral home director and Don Berg was planned for the day after the village board meeting to discuss a variety of issues, such as how far from the stone to start digging the grave, Niggemann said.
A set of rules must be determined, Bates said.
The cemetery map is based on straight lines, noted Scott Gunnufson, village president.
The new part of the cemetery is most definitely based on straight lines. The old part of the cemetery is “staggered” and it is not possible to say “there’s a row and a row,” Bates said.
Everything is marked on the map and in the cemetery, but the headstones do not line up the way one would think they would line up. Everybody at the cemetery must be physically located, Niggemann said.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved a motion to hire Ron Brantner as the caretaker for Evergreen Cemetery.
The Colfax Village Board also unanimously approved a motion to designate Don Berg of Berg’s Bobcat Service as the excavator of graves at Evergreen Cemetery, with Rand Bates taking over the task of marking the lots.
In addition to Gunnufson voting in favor of the motions, village trustees Margaret Burcham, Carey Davis, Mark Halpin, Anne Jenson, Logan Michels and Gary Stene voted in favor.