I am writing this letter for three reasons:
1) To dispel the falsehoods, insults, and slanderous comments made against me, my family and the proposal I have before the Cherokee County Commission;
2) To discuss the misleading and suspect data presented at the public hearing, as well as in the press, since this effort began; and
3) To explain why I believe this is the right time and location for North Georgia Cremation Services to build in Macedonia.
First, I am not the wealthy, money-grubbing undertaker as I have been described. I am a 31-year veteran of corporate America, long-term resident of Georgia, father, husband and Christian.
My decision to pursue this proposal was made only after significant and costly investment, and after consulting with my three moral compasses to determine if this was a good, noble and worthwhile pursuit.
The first compass I use for all decisions is my moral compass, with my Christian faith as its north point. Nothing about this impinged on this. Historic religious opposition to cremation has eased dramatically in the past quarter century.
The second compass, the compass of law, also passed. After many hours of studying and understanding the stringent codes of governance for crematoriums, I decided that, operated strictly according to those rules and regulations, this was a legitimate and reasonable undertaking with little liability exposure.
Lastly, with a compass of science I did my homework. After spending hundreds of hours researching cremations, environmental impacts, visiting 10 separate crematoriums, as well as the top two manufacturers of the device used for cremation, I am convinced the environmental impacts around emissions, smoke, noise and quality of life did not pose a threat to me, my employees or the residents of Cherokee County.
Contrary to what one writer to the paper said, cremation is not some archaic, third world ritual as described. In fact, it is prevalent in this country and around the world.
There are expectations of cremation to approach 44 percent of all death disposition by 2015 in Georgia.
Secondly, based on independent studies, property nearby is not subject to devaluation because of a crematory. The only data provided at the public hearing referenced a townhome complex that may or may not have recovered as fast as surrounding homes, and it had proximity to a crematory.
The fate of any townhome community is as was described. They fall faster in value in hard times and take longer to recover in good times.
During the public hearing, the crematorium in Crabapple was mentioned. The speaker said his child had played sports at the school just down the road, and he had never noticed the crematorium itself, let alone the black smoke and loud noises that are purportedly emitted from such a facility. I have had dinner in several of the many restaurants located within feet of that crematorium and never knew it was there.
To my third point, North Georgia Cremation Services will use the newest technology in a safe, non-intrusive fashion.
We offer full funeral services including chapel services, disposal of remains and burial and preneed services to prepare for the future in an honest, dignified and sensitive fashion.
I do not believe, as some proposed, that crematoriums should be located in industrial parks. Cremation is an option for the final memorialization of loved ones.
This should be done in an appropriate setting where the families are treated with respect, caring and support, not next to a storage unit or delivery warehouse, or where trash or other waste products are disposed.
Macedonia Memorial Park has been offering burial services for many years and is compassionate about the needs of the families at such a time.
Technology has advanced to the point that cremation, while certainly a much more cost-effective alternative than traditional burial, is also a safe alternative, and choice many families have made, including mine. For every study produced that says cremation is at all hazardous, I have read 10 that refute it.
I am sensitive to the emotional side of this proposal, but the data and facts are clear.
Macedonia Memorial Park sits on 26 acres of property, all dedicated to burial services already. I am simply proposing to offer the cremation alternative to the community.
As the commissioners of Cherokee County prepare to vote on this matter, I would hope they would consider all 230,000 residents of Cherokee County, not just the activists opposed and they would consider the science and data, not just emotion, and consider the beneficial impact this will have for the county.
I am committed to Cherokee County and I am committed to helping the county grow.