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Archive for Sunday, April 28, 2002

Plans for crematorium upset Hutchinson residents

April 28, 2002

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— Some Hutchinson residents are burning mad over a funeral home's plans to install a crematorium in their neighborhood.

"What if you're out there barbecuing and they're doing the same thing? It's just the idea of it," said Edward Moore, whose patio is on the back side of his house, near the funeral home. "You hear a fire light off and you know, there goes another one."

Neighbor Russell Kingsley agreed.

"We do a lot of entertaining in our back yard," he said. "What they're talking about is going to be right up against our lots."

Those are reasonable concerns, said David Wolf, managing director at Johnson and Sons. But cremation technology has improved to the point that no smoke emerges from the exhaust stack during the three-hour cremation process, Wolf said.

"We want to be a good neighbor, as I believe we have been," he said. "Once people learn more about it and are educated about it, it is not as fearful as some may think."

The most people will ever see come out of the crematorium's chimney is a heat plume and only if it's cold outside, Wolf said.

Bodies are cremated between 1,600 and 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Filtering systems capture ash and other particles released during the process.

The thought of the crematorium also has caused a major concern at Astle Realty, which owns a parking lot that is frequently used by funeral-home patrons.

"We're not very excited about a crematorium being there," said Judy McCool, an Astle broker and part-owner. "It's not an appropriate thing for our area, where there are lots of businesses and residences. We also don't feel it's good for surrounding property values, including ours."

Ralph Walden, with the Kansas Department of Heath and Environment's Bureau of Air and Radiation, said his office would study any application submitted by Johnson and Sons. A low-volume crematorium, such as at Johnson and Sons, likely would need only the bureau's approval.

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