The town of Blue Hill will move cremated remains that were buried on the wrong plot in a town-owned cemetery sometime in the past year.
The cremated human remains — or cremains — were buried at Seaside Cemetery sometime in the past year without the knowledge of the town’s cemetery sexton, according to Ellen Best, chair of the Select Board.
While the town requires that caskets be buried in a vault, which involves either poured or pre-cast concrete being set into the ground before a burial takes place, cremains can be buried relatively easily, she said.
Cremains often fit into a container about the size of a small box and can be buried by hand.
Since the town’s cemetery sexton, Robert Carter, spends part of each winter in Florida, it is not difficult for someone to dig a hole and bury a box or urn of cremains on their own without being directed to the right spot, she said.
The sexton has to be involved in making arrangements for casket burials, so they are less vulnerable to such confusion, she said.
Carter discovered the mistake this spring when the family who buried the cremains contacted him about erecting a headstone above them, she said.
“He said ‘that’s not your plot,’” Best said.
Carter and Blue Hill’s outgoing town administrator, Nicholas Nadeau, did not return messages seeking comment about the mix-up.
The town has decided to relocate the cremains to the correct adjacent plot, and will foot the bill, Best said. She said she is not sure how much it will cost but given how easily they were buried to begin with, it shouldn’t be very much.
The town recently hired its first-ever public works employee, which may help avoid such confusion in the future.
Chris Kowalski, a former maintenance director at George Stevens Academy, started working for the town earlier this month. Part of his job will be to help maintain the town’s three cemeteries — Seaside off East Blue Hill Road, Mountain View off Tamworth Farm Road, and the Old Settlers Cemetery on Union Street, she said.
The town used to contract out all of its public work services such as plowing and mowing but decided to hire someone in part to get such work done more quickly when needed, Best said, though she is not sure if it will cost less than hiring contractors to do the work. Kowalski may be able to help Carter keep tabs on cemetery burials, especially when Carter is away each winter, she added.
“You need to contact the sexton to find out where your plot is [before burying remains],” she said.