Not too long ago, a Douglas resident could buy a plot at the cemetery for $50. Today, if you want to buy a plot in the dirt area, as opposed to the grassy area, you’re going to spend $795. If you want a plot in the grassy area, you will be paying $1,714. These prices do NOT include funeral costs such as a coffin. I think it’s safe to say that most people in Douglas will be hard pressed to come up that amount.
I can’t image how Curtis Shook can justify those prices in an economically depressed town like Douglas. And to add insult to injury, he does nothing to maintain the cemetery. That’s what grave robbers do: they take from the most vulnerable with little concern for whom they’re robbing. And like a crook, which rhythms with Shook, he has no problem over-charging Douglas residents for the privilege of burying their loved ones there.
But not all is bad with uncle Curtis. If you’re struggling with finances, he’ll give you two options. One: you can go to Uncle Curtis with your hat in your hand and ask for a payment plan. He’ll give you 30 to 60 days to pay, but of course, you have to pay a 50% down payment. If you don’t have the money for a payment plan, however, your loved one will be turned over to the county, cremated, and shipped like a bag of garbage to the Willcox cemetery. But again, you can thank your lucky stars for having Curtis Shook on your side because, after all, he is the champion of the poor people. He only makes about $130,000 a year, so he understands your struggle.
He understands it so well that, on a February city council meeting, an agenda item that asked to raise the cemetery prices again was denied. Thanks to the city council.
Now that we’re on the subject of the City, there are two departments that make money: the water department and the cemetery. I have no problem with spending money on the water department and its infrastructure. After all, everyone needs water in his or her daily life.
The cemetery also makes money, yet Curtis Shook has chosen not to maintain the infrastructure there. If you take a closer look, you’ll see that many of the trees are dying. Or you’ll see the inmate labor cutting down dead trees, usually from lack of water. The plumbing is antiquated, dating back to the 1930s or 1940s. It’s no surprise that the water lines are always breaking. How tolerate would you be if your water service were constantly interrupted? Yet Curtis Shook chooses to take money from the cemetery, money that you pay when you buy a plot, and invest it somewhere else like, say, the country club, which is clearly is a money loser.
Calvary Cemetery has over 10,000 burial plots available. Each year 150 plots are sold. By these figures, there is a 70-year supply of plots. In other words, there is no shortage of plots at Calvary Cemetery, which is what Uncle Curtis wants you to believe.
It’s my opinion that this department should not be under the control of the city manager. Instead, it should be placed under the care of the Mayor and Council, who have family buried there and who care about the proper development of the cemetery.
Dave Kincaid, a former Douglas city manger, had become agitated at a meeting with Gene Karger and the cemetery committee, and he said: “I don’t care about the cemetery. I don’t plan to be buried there anyway.”
That sums up the attitude of the ‘bouncing balls’ that are called city managers, who regularly bounce through Douglas and think poorly about our cemetery.