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Tyrone Township official responds to cemetery decoration controversy

Posted at 10:22 PM, May 25, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-25 22:22:57-04

TYRONE TOWNSHIP, Mich. --  In response to a FOX 17 Problem Solvers investigation aired Sunday night, Tyrone Township Supervisor Dennis Kaminski explained why a flag pole placed next to a grave didn't belong there.

The pole had been in place 14 years at the grave of Donna Loveland, a beloved teacher.

At the Idelwild Cemetery on Monday, the place where the flag pole at Loveland’s grave once stood was just a hole. Kaminski says Loveland’s husband took down the pole Sunday night.

“We had calls because the flag wasn`t maintained," said Kaminski. "It’s windy out here, and the flag would get ripped up and torn. So community members would be thinking it would be our flag and it wasn`t being maintained, and that was disrespectful."

The flag pole was originally placed there because the deceased teacher was very patriotic, and her family put it there as a tribute.  At the time, it served as a flag for the entire cemetery, since it was the only one there. The cemetery recently erected its own flag pole.

Kaminski is a firm believer in following the rules. He told FOX 17 a former supervisor allowed the flag pole to go up despite a township ordinance prohibiting such decorations. The ordinance also prohibits  flowers planted in the ground, statues, and trees. There's a sign outside the cemetery reminding people of the restrictions.

Kaminski said the budget is a big part of why these rules are important. The township’s landscaping company can't mow the lawn as fast as they used to because of everyone's decorations, and it's costing the township, he said.

He didn't make the rules, but he is in charge of enforcing them, even if prior township officials haven't in the past, according to Kaminski.

“It sucks,” said Mr. Daggett, who maintains the grave next to the Loveland grave. "There was never nothing wrong with that flag pole. Everytime we came out here the flag looked great."

“I think he`s way off on this," Daggett said. "This is why they are paying people to do this."

Kaminski said this is the latest in issues the township has addressed. In the past, they've dealt with trees uprooting headstones, and even fallen wind chimes that posed dangerous risks if hit by mowers. The township has sent out information in a monthly newsletter.

While the flag pole wasn’t dangerous, making an exception would only create further problems, Kaminisk told FOX 17.

“I got a whole township to take care of," he said. "It’s kind of hard to chase down every grave site.  I’m not trying to be disrespectful there are just things that have to be done."