Letter to the editor: Michael Hall

Hall Funeral Home good neighbors in Thomaston since 2004

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 2:30pm

Dear Citizens of Thomaston,

The Hall Funeral Home has cared for the families of Midcoast Maine for more than 60 years with dignity and trust. We have continued to evolve our business to meet the needs and wants of the families we have been privileged to serve over the years. The most significant change we have seen has been the increase in families choosing cremation. Twenty five years ago, 30% of the families we served chose cremation. Today, 70% of the families we serve choose cremation. As you can see cremation has become a larger, natural extension of the services we provide. The experience, care, and skill of Hall Funeral Home’s team lead this new endeavor through our new entity, Midcoast Crematory, Inc.

In 2017, I approached the Town of Thomaston to propose building a crematory on the grounds of the Village Cemetery. Maine statutory law requires that crematories only may be built within the property boundaries of cemeteries and nowhere else. I offered to lease the land from the Town. The lease payments will provide much needed income for the Village Cemetery and help mitigate some of the tax burden on the Town’s citizens.

Currently, when any family in Knox or Lincoln County chooses cremation, the family’s loved one is transported to the funeral home, cared for 48 hours, and then transported over an hour or more to a third party crematory operator. The crematory in Thomaston will help give the families of Knox and Lincoln Counties the peace of mind that their loved one will never leave our care.

We are working with B&L Cremation Systems in Largo, Florida. B&L has been designing, engineering, and manufacturing cremation systems for 35 years. B&L currently has 29 retorts in Maine since 1998 without any incidences. These retorts all are approved by the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The Maine D.E.P. issued our Air Quality Permit on July 17, 2020. The cremation retort that Midcoast Crematory, Inc. will purchase has emission controls and provides a smokeless, odorless process. No visible emissions are emitted by the retort. Heat waves are the only visually detectable way to ever know the system is operational.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) lists the operation of crematories as one of the lowest sources of Hg emissions. Mercury emissions from cremation are very low, and they are not regulated by any environmental agency. Under the Clean Air Act, the USEPA reviewed and updated national air-quality standards for all types of possible pollutant sources, including crematories. This review considered all possible pollutants including particulate matter and mercury. As a result, crematories were not considered for any further federal regulation.

We have been good neighbors in Thomaston since 2004 and will continue that relationship moving forward. We will be hosting two open houses to show the detailed proposed building plans as approved by the Thomaston Planning Board on June 16, 2020, and to answer questions about Midcoast Crematory, Inc. The open houses will be held August 19th from 3 to 5 p.m. and September 8th from 4 to 6 p.m. at Hall Funeral Home, 78 Main Street, Thomaston. Please feel free to call 207-354-6475 for more information.

Michael Hall
President of Midcoast Crematory, Inc. & Hall Funeral Homes


Timeline Summary of Actions Already Taken

- (June 2017)At the Annual Town Meeting, the town citizens voted to change the zoning to allow a crematory as a conditional use in the Village Cemetery.

-(March 2019) The Select Board and Village Cemetery Trustees chose a location for the crematory building at 32 Anna Belle Lane.

- (June 2019) At the Annual Town Meeting, the town citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor to allow the select board to accept bids and to negotiate a lease for the proposed crematory at 32 Anna Belle Lane.

- (January 2020)The Select Board accepted the Midcoast Crematory, Inc. bid to lease the land at 32 Anna Belle Lane for the crematory building, and has asked the town citizens to accept this bid at the Annual Town Meeting on September 15, 2020.

(June 16, 2020)
-The Planning Board approved our conditional use, building plans, and site plan review with the following
-Voter Approval of Lease Agreement at Annual Town Meeting on September 15, 2020
-D.E.P. Air Quality Permit (Permit issued on July 17, 2020 by State of Maine D.E.P.)
-No deliveries between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
-Delivery of propane during business hours
-Fully shield dark night sky lighting
-Screening of the leased property from Erin Street

Midcoast Crematory, Inc. agreed to the conditions, and will follow through on the conditional requirements.