FD hires firm to mow Memorial Park

Company will replace volunteers at cemetery

A company hired by the city will take over the mowing at Fort Dodge Memorial Park Cemetery on Wednesday.

Jeff’s Lawn & Snow Care, of Rolfe, will replace volunteers who converged on the overgrown cemetery with their mowers over the Memorial Day weekend.

The volunteers went to work in the cemetery at 3242 Fifth Ave. S. when it appeared that no one was taking care of it, leaving grass as high as 10 inches obscuring headstones.

“Some awesome volunteers actually stepped up and went out there with their own equipment,” City Manager David Fierke said Monday. “That’s really special to take your Memorial Day weekend and go mow someone else’s cemetery.”

Alan C. Dorothy, the organizer of Fort Dodge Memorial Park LLC, has said he’s out of business and no longer taking care of the cemetery. He has given the city his consent to let it maintain the site. He has also agreed not to contest an effort by the Iowa Insurance Division to to take control of the cemetery.

The city sought bids for mowing the cemetery, and 10 proposals were received. Jeff’s Lawn & Snow Care offered the low bid of $11,000.

The city manager is authorized to approve spending of up to $25,000 without City Council action, so Fierke said he will approve the contract.

The company will be responsible for the mowing through Nov. 15.

The Iowa Insurance Division, which regulates cemeteries, filed a petition in court Friday to begin the process of taking control of the cemetery via what attorneys call receivership. It’s unclear when the case will come before a judge, but Dorothy’s cooperation will speed up the process, according to Fierke.

He said once it has control of the cemetery, the state agency will seek another company to take it over. But he added that once a cemetery is in receivership, there’s not many assets left to make it attractive to a company. Fierke said that increases the chances that the city will end up with it, because under state law cities are ultimately responsible for cemeteries.

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