The City of Chewelah recently invested in a cremation niche wall at the Chewelah Memorial Park for an alternative to underground lots for cremated remains (cremains).
The marble and stone wall has 48 single 10.5 inch square spaces to house one urn each. It occupies one 4 by 10 foot lot in the center of the cemetery and stands about 5 feet tall. The niche wall is made of marble on the face and top with the sides and back made of rock. The marble slabs on the face are engraveable.
It was built by Wilbert Vault Company out of Spokane with $13,000 from the city’s Park/Recreation/Cemetery Reserve fund that can only be spent toward related projects.
City Administrator Mike Frizzell said this is a long-term investment that will eventually pay for itself as each space costs $650.
He said the niche wall is a way to offer another option to citizens and, after research of nearby cemeteries, learned that many people prefer above ground memorials for cremains.
Frizzell and the city cemetery/parks committee has also updated the rates and policies for Chewelah Memorial Park and Chewelah Pioneer Cemetery to have more complete and detailed guidelines to improve its management and make it a more self-sustaining entity.
After talking with Bill Danekas, who owns cemeteries in Colville, Frizzell used his business model as an example to help create the new Chewelah cemetery policies. This includes increased prices, but more clear rules and a self-supportive strategy where 50 percent of the proceeds of all lot and niche sales at Chewelah Memorial Park now go to the reserves for future improvement and maintenance of the cemetery.
Prices for a single grave lot have increased by $300 to $750 although Frizzell said it is still much more reasonable than cities like Spokane. A double cremain lot costs $520 or a single cremain lot costs $345.
Chewelah Memorial Park is a perpetual care cemetery, which means it has to be maintained forever even after all the lots have been sold. It is located on Cemetery Road east of Highway 395 south of Chewelah.
Frizzell said they have been working on cleaning up the cemeteries and is excited to have the Niche Wall complete for Memorial Weekend.
“It’s time to take pride in our cemetery,” Frizzell said.
Although the City of Chewelah also owns Chewelah Pioneer Cemetery, it is not a perpetual care cemetery and does not require watering and therefore less mowing. The cemetery is adjacent to St. Mary’s Cemetery, located on Flowery Trail Road, and maintained by the Chewelah Pioneer Cemetery Association.
By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff
In this photo: The cremation niche wall is located in the center of Chewelah Memorial Park. Kellie Trudeau photo