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Green burials catch on as popular, local option

by: CONTRIBUTED - A body in a biodegradable shroud awaits a green burial at Gibson Cemetery.Three years ago, Estacada had its first green burial.

Plots for green burials in George Cemetery sold out fast.

The plan is for eco-friendly burials to take place at Gibson Cemetery from now on.

Estacada Cemetery District Sexton Larry Gyure and Estacada Funeral Chapel Director Rob Gaskill spent the morning of Thursday, Sept. 12, showing Good Morning Estacada attendees the lovely, wooded site on Southeast Horseshoe Drive in Eagle Creek.

Gyure explained that in a green burial “everything needs to be biodegradable,” from the shroud to the clothes the body is buried in.

Gaskill explained that cremation is not considered “green” because it requires the use of so much energy.

“We find that the people that come for the green burials are from the hippy generation and don’t want to leave a big footprint when they leave,” Gyure said.

And some have been really green.

Gyure gave an anecdote of a green burial service in which all of the guests honored the deceased by lighting up “green” cigarettes.

Although Gyure and Gaskill were pleased at the popularity of the green burial plots at the George Cemetery, they decided to raise green burial prices in order to attract people “that actually care about the cause.”

They suspected some people had gone the green burial route because it is cheaper than traditional burial methods. For example, the purchase of embalming and a liner are not necessary.

“We don’t want these (plots at Gibson Cemetery) to sell out tomorrow,” Gyure said. “We want these to last a while.”

Many of the green burials have been for people from outside of the Estacada area.

Gyure explained that those from outside of the Estacada School District boundaries pay a higher fee for green burial than those from within the district.

Gyure went on to give an overview of the Estacada Cemetery District.

In total, there are nine cemeteries in the district on eight pieces of property.

by:  ISABEL GAUTSCHI - Good Morning Estacada attendees mingle in the trees surrounding Gibson Cemetery in Eagle Creek.Chamber of Commerce Administrator Connie Redmond pointed out that it’s not uncommon for people to come to the Chamber knowing that an ancestor is buried in the area, but they are not sure exactly where.

In these situations, Gyure finds the grave for the family.

A citizen commented that the city should develop a pet cemetery.

Gyure explained that Oregon law prohibits pets being buried with people.

City Manager Bill Elliott said someone could donate land to the cemetery district to be used for a pet cemetery in exchange for a tax deduction.

The cemetery district gets its funding through a temporary levy, which expires soon.

Gyure hopes the people of Estacada will vote to reinstate the operating levy.

He explained that “everyone has been paying the same tax for 20 years.”

“So it’s not really a new tax. And you can’t change the percentage of taxes on the first levy,” Gyure said.

Gaskill said he typically arranges 40-50 funerals a year. He’s done about that many already for 2013.

“All of sudden people are dying to see us,” he joked.

Kidding aside, Gaskill said that filling out a personal care letter detailing personal wishes for the funeral and after-life processes eliminates a great deal of time, stress and contention for family members.

A brief “My Personal Care Letter” questionnaire is available at the Estacada Funeral Chapel.

Gaskill said he keeps the letters on file just in case.




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