- Associated Press - Sunday, June 22, 2014

SHELTON, Neb. (AP) - The dissolution of Buffalo County’s townships has left a central Nebraska cemetery with an uncertain future.

The Shelton Cemetery was named after a Buffalo County town, but it’s located in neighboring Hall County, according to the Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/1ixD7jG ).

The location hasn’t mattered because the Shelton Cemetery Association cared for the 12½-acre plot of land. But Shelton Township is set to dissolve on Jan. 1, and when it does, so will a key funding source for the cemetery. Association members who care for the cemetery are now scrambling to find a solution.

“It’s just common courtesy to keep the final resting place nice,” said Cyndy Ryan, a cemetery association member.

The cemetery was founded in 1885, with a deed for 10 acres handwritten in calligraphy. It was expanded to its current size in 1959. More than 2,700 people are currently buried there.

The issue for Ryan and the cemetery association began in November 2012, when Buffalo County voters decided to dissolve the county’s 26 townships.

Those in Shelton soon had questions about the future of their area. It quickly became clear that the village would probably want to make the library and cemetery, both of which benefited from the township, part of Shelton before the 2015 deadline. If they did not, Ryan said, Buffalo County would likely take over and the library would be abandoned.

The village board initially told the cemetery association it could only maintain one, Ryan said, and the board was choosing the library.

Typically, Ryan said, the cemetery’s budget is about $14,000, and it has two employees. To fund that, she said, they use the interest from a perpetual care fund, which was set up long ago.

When the interest ran out in past years, she said, the association would have to go to the township board. Last year, that was in August.

“The township, they weren’t jumping to give us money,” she said. “If we didn’t ask, they weren’t giving.”

The township did provide several thousand dollars a year. Next year, the cemetery association will have to make up for that itself.

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Information from: The Grand Island Independent, http://www.theindependent.com

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