Via social media Tuesday evening, residents were up in arms about the condition of the resting grounds of their deceased.

THE ISSUE: Residents are unhappy with the quality of care at Fairview Cemetery, under the direction of the city.

LOCAL IMPACT: The city has employed the use of weed killers to save time and funds, in order to maintain the grounds, which causes it to be unsightly at times during summer months.

Via social media Tuesday evening, residents were up in arms about the condition of the resting grounds of their deceased.

Complaints ranged from the ugliness of dead weeds around headstones, to fallen monument stones.

Though graves were there previously, the Fairview Cemetery was officially commissioned on June 21, 1897, and has been in consistent use since that time, the City of Shawnee website states.

The site, at 1400 N. Center Ave., was the topic of discussion as Deanie Wells voiced her disappointment with the cemetery's appearance on her Facebook page — sparking multiple comments.

One of the main complaints concerned the city's use of weed killer instead of weed-eating.

Realistically, the nearly 80-acre site creates a massive challenge given the city's staff and funding.

“With 25,000 headstones and only being able to devote two and a half full-time employees to mowing and maintenance on the grounds, we just don’t have the staff to trim around each headstone twice a month during the growing season,” City Manager Justin Erickson said.

Right now, he said the city doesn't have funds to hire additional staff or undertake major repairs at the cemetery.

Most can agree that mowing and trimming an average lawn is a constant battle in the summer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the national average lawn size is about one-fifth of an acre for the 85 million households with a private lawn.

A football field is 1.3 acres — and free of obstacles like headstones; the Fairview grounds are almost 62 times that size.

Weed-eating around hundreds of objects slows work down considerably — just four acres could take one person half a day, according to, an ask-the-expert site powered by The Home Depot.

“I would consider this a two-person job,” expert Lou F. said. “If you have one large machine, one hand mower and two weed eaters, I think you are looking at six hours of work. That's 12 man-hours. In my area I would expect to pay $20 per hour per person, so that comes out to be $240 each week (for a four-acre job).”

For Fairview, multiply that by 20 (to cover 80 acres) and that equates to roughly $4,800 just in man-hours — minus equipment, gas, etc., but it couldn't be done more than once per month, because time-wise it would take approximately 240 hours — or 10 days around the clock — to accomplish, barring any hindrances, such as rain. Broken down into 8-hour days, this system would take a full 30 days to cover the grounds completely — exactly one time.

Erickson said his staff spoke with Wells Wednesday morning.

“We, of course, want the public to be proud of the cemetery and strive for continual improvement,” Erickson said.

The city tries hard to keep fees responsible and affordable, he said.

“Our burial plots are $400 — which is considerably less expensive than most private cemeteries. We have to balance the cost of maintenance with the need to keep fees reasonable, while also recovering our expenses.”

According to, available lots at the 33-acre Resthaven Memorial Park in Shawnee are priced at $1,500 each.

Another concern was the number of overturned monument stones on the grounds.

Though it is unclear exactly how many headstones were toppled — or who may have caused them to fall — Erickson said the city is working to have all of them back up within the next seven to 10 days.

Some of the complaints, however, are beyond the city's control.

“The mausoleum is not owned by the City of Shawnee, nor do we have any agreement in place with the owner,” Erickson said. “Therefore, we are unable to utilize taxpayer dollars to maintain or improve the facility.”