North Notes
Spokane-North Rotary Club
March 18, 2024
           March 25: Noon meeting at the Bark. Speaker: Club President Ron Noble, quarterly report.
           April 1: Noon meeting at the Bark. Speaker: Michael Baumgartner, Spokane County Treasurer.  
            New options in cemetery choices
            Spokane-area burial sites are increasing as “eco-friendly” and park-like spaces are added to the more traditional cemeteries and mausoleums.
            At the March 18 club meeting, a dozen members and a few added visitors toured the Heritage Cemetery grounds to hear about the new concepts.
            Tour guides included David Ittner, CEO of Fairmount Memorial Association, and Jorge Vara II, sales director at Fairmount.  Club member Laura Zahn arranged the field trip and luncheon.
            Ittner led the group to Forest Grove, a “general burial and cremation” natural site where the interred are buried in ashes or shrouded bodies with no embalming liquids or other chemicals.
            The Grove has bark-chipped pathways amid a dense tree-filled acreage.  Basalt stone markers, native to the land, are allowed, but no traditional granite head stones, Ittner said.
            He added that graves are dug by hand, with no heavy equipment used on the site.
            “The sites are 6-by-12 feet – wider than normal casket and vault burial sites, which do not shift if the area ground moves slightly,” Ittner said.  He added that burials were at least 18 inches below the surface, safe from movement or digging by animals.
            Some burials are done in biodegradable bamboo caskets, but no metal caskets are allowed in the Grove, he said.
            Vara said no “scattering areas” of ashes is allowed in the Forest Grove area, but other sites are available in Heritage’s 85 acres to allow spreading ashes.
            Back at the main building Ittner showed a video of the Timber Run Reserve area designed to look more like a park than a traditional cemetery.  Wide paths have benches and a variety of flower beds surrounded by deciduous and pine trees.
           Timber Run will include some mausoleum sites.  Vara said the large existing mausoleum building is nearly filled.
            In background, Ittner said seven individual cemeteries were merged into the non-profit Fairmount Association.  Vara said some 60,000 have been buried “in the whole area” over the years.
            Ittner said burial fees include “interment rights,” adding that means the right to the burial, but “we own the land and pay the property taxes.”
            Additional costs include labor to open and close the burial site, a memorial and various funeral service items.
            Ittner said more than 80 percent of burials in Washington State are cremations.  He said while many cemeteries now are “land-locked,” with little new space, Heritage has 85 acres now and 80 acres more to develop, all the way to the Spokane River.
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink.