Budgets, public safety, education. All important enough issues to be sure. But another matter seems to simmer just below the surface and percolates to the top now and again that can sure generate a lot of emotion. The issue involves graves and what can and cannot be placed at a grave to honor dearly departed loved ones.

The New Bedford City Council Committee on Properties and the city's cemetery board will meet in a joint virtual session via Zoom on Wednesday night. New Bedford Cable Access will provide citizens with live access to the meeting on its Facebook page. The Department of Public Infrastructure, responsible for a great deal of the upkeep at the cemeteries, will also participate in the gathering.

At issue is what residents can place at gravesites and whether current rules and regulations need to be revisited and brought up to date. The debate rekindles from time to time, usually in the spring. Often, trinkets and other decorations placed graveside during the holiday season are gone when loved ones return.

Some feel that rules are enforced more vigorously for some than they are for others. This is, without a doubt, a sensitive issue for many folks in New Bedford who pay a great deal to purchase a cemetery plot and believe they should be able to decorate it as they see fit.

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There needs to be commonsense rules for the cemeteries. The cemetery department should provide more frequent updates about those rules, upcoming deadlines, and potential rules changes.

Rules are rules, but times change, and so should the rules from time to time. A meeting involving the cemetery board and the properties committee is a good idea and perhaps long overdue.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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