By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — The question of what to do with the structure known as the preacher’s stand was addressed at the Oakwood Cemetery Board of Regents meeting Thursday, Oct. 7.
Oakwood Cemetery Sexton Hal Heagy said he either needs to put money into the structure or it needs to be taken down.
The preacher’s stand is behind the cemetery office. The open structure has a roof and a tier of seats.
The issue of what to do with the preacher’s stand was first discussed in August when Heagy told board members that a new roof has been put on the building in recent years and more maintenance will be needed.
The structure was used in the past during Memorial Day events but those services are now held at the cemetery chapel.
“It basically is a homeless shelter is what it’s used for,” Heagy said. “I’m not talking a ton of money. I’ve got to fix some gutter and put some new doors on down below. The roof isn’t bad because I went to a steel roof many years ago.”
Heagy said he has no issue with the structure being used as a homeless shelter and pointed out that Warsaw Salvation Army Envoy Ken Locke has sent people there.
“It’s just a place to sleep and get a roof over your head is what it is,” Heagy said.
“I’m just torn,” Heagy said. “I don’t mind spending money on it. We’re not talking thousands and thousands of dollars, but do I, just for the integrity, or do we take it down?”
He estimated that cosmetic repairs would cost in the area of $5,000-$6,000 if he performs most of the work himself. The structure has always been part of the cemetery.
Board member Chris Plack said while he is sensitive to the community’s fondness of a potential landmark, he’s concerned about potential liability issues with people staying in a building that’s deteriorating.
Heagy clarified that at this point the issues are not structural and consist mostly of cosmetic repairs.
Board Vice President Max Mock asked Heagy if he thought there would be pushback from the public if the structure is removed since it’s been there for so long.
Board members agreed that a survey would be the way to proceed, in order to obtain input from the community.
In other news:
- The front gate closure has been set for winter hours, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- The next regular meeting will be 5 p.m. Nov. 4.