by Gary Noland
Seeley Swan Pathfinder
February 25, 1999
Rod Kvamme, chairman of the Seeley Lake District Cemetery board, reported to the Community Council earlier this month that the district has acquired over 4 acres of additional land for the cemetery, just south of Salmon Lake along the highway, at a cost of around $18,000.
The cemetery was started in 1995 when a district was formed and a site acquired when Plum Creek Timber Company donated 3.9 acres of land at the present site.
It was a triangular plot and the cemetery board has been trying to acquire additional land to square off the site. It has taken a "long process of three years," Kvamme said.
In an arrangment with State Lands, the cemetery board has negotiated a permanent easement over 4.42 acres adjoining the original donated land by Plum Creek, bringing the cemetery site to just over 8 acres in total size.
"We had to pay a pretty penny for it," Kvamme told council members at a regular meeting following the Highway 83 meeting Feb. 8, considering that the annual grazing fee for the land had never been over $10.02 annually.
Kvamme said later that recent developments in the south of Salmon Lake area have increased land valuations and the state was obligated to consider the highest value of the land.
The cemetery board paid for the land with what amounts to a $50,000 line of credit arranged with the State Board of Investments two years ago when the cemetery was starting up with no funds.
The cemetery district, approved by voters, is allowed a 4-mill annual levy which brings in about $18,000, Kvamme told the council members. That is basically the operating budget for the district and covers operating costs plub payback on funds borrowed, which so far amounts to about $25,000.
Currently, the cemetery has available 600 burial lots within the original land gift from Plum Creek, so the additional land will more than double the size of the cemetery. Each lot can accomodate one regular burial and a cremation, or two cremations, Kvamme said.
"We won't be developing that (new land) now, but when you deal with a cemetery, you think in terms of 100 years," Kvamme told the council.
In addition to the burial lots, which are 5 feet by 8 feet in size, there will be space in several granite ledgers around the Cemetery Gazebo for an additional 400 cremation burials, Kvamme added.
Once sales of lots takes off, 25 percent of the sales income will go into a permanent care trust fund, with only the interest available for operations, Kvamme told the council.
Those funds are even administered by a separate board other than the cemetery board. Members on that board are John Beawick, Al Slaight and Roger Johnson.
Kvamme anticipates that the cemetery will handle between 10-12 burials a year. To date there have been around a dozen burials at the cemetery.