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No burials until Spring

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011 - 6:52pm

The rough winter is causing a grave problem in Derry, New Hampshire.

Cemetery officials have called off burials until the spring.

"Our people are exhausted," said Town Administrator John Anderson.

Anderson said the decision to halt burials at the town operated Forest Hill Cemetery was out of concern for public safety because in Derry, the same crews that dig the graves also plow the streets.

"It's more important to us to keep the roads open and sidewalks open, hose are our first priorities," said Anderson. "If we had the personnel we would absolutely keep doing it."

Call it another sign of an extraordinary winter, but not an extraordinary decision.

Derry in fact is one of just a small handful of New Hampshire towns that operates year-round burials.

Most Granite State cemeteries simply close because the process in winter conditions can be overwhelming.

"You've got to spring two people free, go over and clear a plot off, jackhammer two feet of frost out of the way, dig the rest of the hole, put the vault in the ground - it's not a five minute project," said Anderson.

Though while crews prepare for another few inches to clear off countless roads and 38 miles of sidewalks, Derry's departed will have to lay and wait for an early spring.

"We're looking at a month of not being able to bury folks, but we have cold storage like all cemeteries in New England do" said Anderson.

The Forest Hill Cemetery does remain open.

If you have a loved one you'd like to visit, the main avenue through the cemetery is plowed.
 

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