After discussions, ranging all the way back into the middle of last year, the Dallas County Board of Supervisors finally made a move towards passing regulations in regards to the upkeep and maintenance of Pioneer Cemeteries in the county. The discussion first arose during a meeting back on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 when questions were asked about who had jurisdiction over maintenance of the Longmire-Davis Cemetery southwest of Adel.


A Pioneer Cemetery in the State of Iowa is defined as a cemetery “where there have been twelve or fewer burials in the preceding fifty years,” according to the ordinance, of which the Supervisors approved the first reading on Tuesday morning.


Currently, township trustees throughout the county have been maintaining pioneer cemeteries, but under the new ordinance, Dallas County would assume jurisdiction and control over them, with maintenance and repair expenses of those pioneer cemeteries being paid from the County General Fund.


The Boards of Trustees will have until Sept. 30 of each calendar year to notify the county of any cemeteries in their townships that fall under the definition of pioneer cemetery, at which point the county would take over jurisdiction. Cemeteries that qualify as pioneer cemeteries, but are not reported to the county, would continue to fall under the jurisdiction of the Township Trustees.


According to the ordinance, the Board of Supervisors would be able to “enter into agreements with Township Boards of Trustees or other public or private entities for performance of maintenance and restoration of Pioneer Cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the Board of Supervisors.”


County Attorney, Wayne Reisetter, who has been doing research on the topic since the first discussion back in 2016, clarified that there will not be a cemetery commission formed as a result of this ordinance.


“This board retains jurisdiction,” Reisetter said. “What can happen is, whether it’s the board of trustees or, even theoretically, a private entity or some other public entity, can come to the board and say ‘we’re interested in maintaining or restoring a pioneer cemetery,’ or several, and this board can then consider, ‘okay, you can do this work for us.’”


The ordinance will have a second reading during a public hearing at the next meeting, on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. It will have to have three readings before passage, at which time the ordinance would go into law and the Board of Supervisors would start budgeting for pioneer cemetery maintenance and restoration.