Sunday, May 3, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Special district watches over local cemeteries

23 suisun-fairfield cemetery 001

Rick Humphrey mows the grass at the Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, Tuesday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

By
From page A1 | April 06, 2014 |

Editor’s note: This is part of a periodic series that looks at Solano County’s special districts.

FAIRFIELD — Suisun Fairfield Rockville Cemetery District leaders face plenty of decisions as they run two local cemeteries using taxpayers’ money.

Decisions about whether to buy more land. Decisions about how to spend money after seeing big drops in property tax income during the Great Recession. Decisions about how to improve the local public cemeteries.

Cemeteries may be for the dead, but the living keep them operating.

“We provide a service to the community,” district General Manager Doris Goodrich said. “The taxpayers support this cemetery. We’re there to serve them.”

The Suisun Fairfield Rockville Cemetery District is a special district run by a board of trustees appointed by the Solano County Board of Supervisors. The district operates the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery on Union Avenue in Fairfield and the Rockville Cemetery on Rockville Road in rural Suisun Valley.

About 79 to 100 burials take place at the two cemeteries each year. The district’s job is to keep these two cemeteries operating and in good condition.

Million-dollar budget

Revenues in the latest budget total just more than $1 million. Expenditures total $1.3 million, in part because the district is doing road work within the two cemeteries and is using savings.

A good chunk of the revenue comes from property taxes. With the housing market meltdown, the district saw tax money fall from $826,194 in 2009 to $693,648 in 2011, a 16 percent drop. The latest budget calls for taking in $691,000 in taxes, though rising property values could boost it further.

“We lost a lot of tax revenue,” Goodrich said. “What happened is we had to raise the fees for our plots. Whenever the tax raises decreases, we have to increase our services.”

In addition, the number of people being buried at the two local cemeteries dropped with the opening of the Sacramento Valley National Cemetery, she said. The cemetery for veterans opened near Dixon in 2006.

An adult burial at either the Rockville Cemetery or the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery costs $2,048.

The Solano County Auditor-Controller’s Office audits the cemetery district. Recent audits show no reporting issues.

Monthly meetings

The board of trustees meets monthly, alternating between the offices at the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery and the Rockville Cemetery. Members are James Robinson, Todd Bertani, Wayne Engell, Mary Ellsworth, John Estes, Earl Kilmer and Dot Little.

Trustees had their Jan. 13 meeting around a table in the small Rockville Cemetery office starting at 8:30 a.m., with coffee and doughnuts available. A few members of the public, such as Craig Bryan of Bryan-Braker Funeral Home, came and went over the next two hours.

One item of business was whether to buy land next to the Rockville Cemetery. Goodrich says the cemetery already has about 200 years worth of plots, but the adjacent land would push this out to 400 years.

“We thought this is for sale, we should purchase it now while there’s an opportunity,” Goodrich said.

But the trustees learned at the January meeting that this opportunity appears gone, at least for the present.

There’s no immediate need to buy land to expand the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery. About five acres remain there and Goodrich said this should last 100 years.

Fairfield recently annexed about 2,288 acres near Travis Air Force Base for its next growth frontier. It worked with the district to make provisions for a cemetery there. Fairfield is to give the district 25 acres to 35 acres near its planned Great Park.

The district has 30 years to accept the offer. It’s in no hurry.

“That’s something the board at the time will have to decide, if they actually need the land,” Goodrich said. “It is a large amount of expense to develop property and run a water line and put in roads.”

But, though space might remain at the Rockville and Suisun Fairfield cemeteries, Goodrich noted that the new community Fairfield is building several miles away might want to be served by a cemetery that is closer.

A citizen spoke to trustees at the Jan. 13 meeting about installing a bench in the Rockville Cemetery gazebo, inscribed with the name of a deceased loved one. Trustees subsequently walked out to the gazebo, a hexagon-shaped area of cement with a metal roof and niches for cremates. They tried to figure out where a bench could go without hindering the ceremonies that take place there. They discussed possible prices.

And they discussed ways to lower watering costs at the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery. Irrigation is done with treated city water. Goodrich said the summer watering bill comes to $13,000 to $17,000 every two months.

Hooking into the North Bay Aqueduct to get untreated water for irrigation appeared out. Drilling wells was a possibility.

Members of the board of trustees came to their positions in various ways. Robinson often walks near the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery. One day, the then-manager came out and asked him if he wanted a job serving on the board.

Estes joined the board in about 2007. A county supervisor called him and asked him if he was interested in the position.

Little was appointed by the Board of Supervisors in 1998. Her ancestors, the Alford and Barber families, donated land for the cemetery in pioneer days.

“I decided it was my turn to do something for the cemetery, so I came on the board,” she said.

A long history

Rockville Cemetery on rural Rockville Road has a history spanning from the days of the covered wagon to the days of hybrid and electric autos. It dates back to the 1850s.

Landy Alford, a wealthy Suisun Valley farmer, in 1856 deeded two acres for $50 to the Methodist Episcopal Church South for a stone chapel and for the cemetery. The Alfords’ 3-year-old daughter died in December 1856 and became among the first buried there.

Historically prominent names can be founded on these aging tombstones. Buried at Rockville Cemetery is Granville Swift, one of the men who held Gen. Mariano Vallejo as a hostage during the Bear Flag Revolt of 1846. He died in 1876.

“The valley cemetery at Rockville, there are generations of families that are buried there,” Goodrich said. “They want to be in their family plots or close to family.”

The other cemetery, Suisun Fairfield Cemetery on Union Avenue in Fairfield, also has roots back to the 1850s. Among those buried there is Josiah Wing, who founded Suisun City.

Over time, a public cemetery and cemeteries owned by the Masons, Odd Fellows and Catholic Church developed in this area, then on the outskirts of town. So by the 1920s, the area had several cemeteries, none of which had anything to do with special districts and taxpayers’ money.

But the cemeteries hit hard times. A group of Fairfield women tried in vain to raise enough money to hire someone to cut weeds, plant flowers and do other chores at the Fairfield cemetery. During the summer of 1924, citizens circulated a petition to form a cemetery district that could use property tax dollars to do the job.

“Those acquainted here are cognizant of the deplorable condition of the public cemetery and that the district will be formed is not doubted,” the July 3, 1924, Solano Republican reported. The Republican was the Daily Republic’s predecessor.

Three trustees would oversee the district. They would decide the amount of money needed to maintain the cemetery and this would be placed on the tax rolls, the paper said.

On Sept. 2, 1924, the Solano County Board of Supervisors formed what it called the Suisun Fairfield Cemetery District.

That proved to be only a start. On March 2, 1925, the Board of Supervisors created the Rockville Public Cemetery District, again with three trustees.

“There was a request from the farmers and taxpayers here,” Goodrich said.

Meanwhile, the 1856 stone chapel owned by the Methodist Episcopal Church next to Rockville Cemetery had fallen on hard times and needed repairs. In 1929, the Methodist Episcopal Church South deeded it to the Rockville Cemetery District.

In 2007, the Suisun Fairfield and Rockville cemetery districts merged. That allowed them to eliminate the meandering district boundary between them and to combine finances. The late Jim Campi, who became a trustee on the Rockville Cemetery District in 1975 and served as board chairman for 38 years, helped with the merger effort.

Solano County has three other cemetery districts. They are the Vacaville-Elmira, Silveyville and Rio Vista-Montezuma districts.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • mescApril 06, 2014 - 9:02 am

    Thank you Barry Eberling. I appreciate these local information pieces. Walking in the Rockville Cemetery is a walk in history.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
3rd-graders study nature at Fairfield park

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Pros have tough time with financial news

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: C1

 
Colliers releases Solano-Napa commercial real estate report

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Fairfield industrial sector remains hot

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: C1, 16 Comments

 
Solano County to add War on Terror names to memorial

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Calico’s legacy lives on to this day

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 9 Comments

 
I’m asking for your forgiveness

By Steve Kiefer | From Page: D2, 3 Comments

 
Snow Mountain hike set on Mother’s Day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Library continues spring book sale

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Knitters group about to start in Vacaville

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Sacramento rally to support child advocacy

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
 
Airmen from Vacaville finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: C4

 
Band festival brings sweet music to downtown Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
CASA of Solano seeks volunteers

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A13

 
Public hearing set before Mental Health Advisory Board

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A13

.

US / World

Britain says hello to newest princess

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
‘Be Kind to Animals’ celebrates 100 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: D6, 1 Comment

 
NYPD officer in critical condition after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Drop out thinks he can get you a tech industry job

By Bloomberg News | From Page: A9

 
Damage soars as Oakland demonstrations turn violent

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9, 7 Comments

Japanese PM sees ‘alliance of hope’ with US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Plans are at odds over fate of medical marijuana

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11, 2 Comments

‘Huggy’ returns to Capitol after 12-year hiatus

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Sea Lion found wandering the streets of SF

By Bloomberg News | From Page: A11

 
Portman doing balancing act with re-election, trade

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Need for cybersecurity experts met by trend in cyber camps

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Lincoln’s hometown re-enact his funeral

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Pope Francis set to name Serra a saint in DC ceremony

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
ISIS kills 25 captive Yazidis in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Living

US colleges bringing in chaplains to serve the nonbelievers

By The Associated Press | From Page: D2Comments are off for this post | Gallery

 
Community Calendar: May 3, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Today in history: Sunday, May 3, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Love Your Lines: stretch marks go viral in support of women

By The Associated Press | From Page: D4

My 67-year-old husband won’t stop viewing porn on his computer

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: D4

 
Crabapples come in many varieties (some aren’t even crabby)

By The Associated Press | From Page: D4 | Gallery

Horoscope: May 3, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: D4

 
.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

 
T. Coraghessan Boyle wins $30,000 for short story writing

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

On his list: John Oates of Hall & Oates has book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

 
Illness memoir ‘The Iceberg’ wins Wellcome Book Prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: D3

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: C5

 
.

Sports

Mayweather wins unanimous decision over Pacquiao

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders head to Travis AFB for Day 3 of NFL Draft

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Favorite American Pharoah rallies to win Kentucky Derby

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Grizzlies, Warriors ready to meet in conference semifinals

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Raiders fill more holes on final day of draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Odor’s RBI single in 10th lifts Rangers past A’s

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Michael Allen leads Champions Tour’s Insperity Invitational

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Posey, Crawford homer in Giants’ 5-4 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
49ers fortify offense on third day of draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Murray wins twice for BMW Open final against Kohlschreiber

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Jeff Gordon leads Hendrick in pole-winning run at Talladega

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Kreider’s early goal leads Rangers over Capitals in Game 2

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Thompson ricochets to share of LPGA Tour lead with Park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Joey Logano uses big block on last lap to win Xfinity race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Paul lifts Clippers past Spurs, 111-109 in Game 7

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

McIlroy in a fight with Casey until darkness gets in the way

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

Starbucks breakdown shows how registers have evolved

By The Associated Press | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Offshore wind energy sector off to slow start in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Recalls this week: Kaleidoscope toys, batteries

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
A chip off the old Croc: The return of the ugly shoe

By Bloomberg News | From Page: C3, 1 Comment | Gallery

Review: Getting your Apple Watch? Here’s how to use it

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
US seeks to compensate victims of Sudan, Iran and Cuba

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
.

Obituaries

Sherman Elwood

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

 
George Benjamin Kimes Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

Gerald Mc Devitt

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

 
Fred L. Kirk

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

Marcello T Gemignani

By Nancy Green | From Page: A13

 
Lois Geraldine Johnston

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A13

.

Comics

.

Summer Sunsational 2015

Solano County Fair: Something for everyone

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM6

Get ready to get down to the music at Dixon fair

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM13

Cars, cars and more cars

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM18

Farmers markets, produce stands offer regional bounty

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM19

Golf, anyone? Lots to choose from

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM20

More wine! Solano offers much to tease the palate

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM22

Get back to nature across Solano County

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM23

Mondavi Center brings world-class performances to region

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM29

Go behind the scene on Anheuser-Busch brewery tours

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM30

Try your luck at area casinos

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM37

Fair fun continues during summer in Napa

By Daily Republic | From Page: SUM45