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Judge rules plaintiffs do have standing in Rural Home Cemetery case

 Judge Lee S. Dreyfus told a full courtroom this afternoon that the 34 plaintiffs asking to halt or void the transfer of Rural Home Cemetery from an association to the village of Big Bend do have standing to pursue the matter in his court.

In order to have standing, plaintiffs had to prove they have suffered or will suffer harm from the action occurring, Dreyfus explained. The judge said that plot owners have rights and privileges and that those rights and privileges have been lost in this process.

Dreyfus said that while the transfer, which was approved by the State of Wisconsin Cemetery Board in November, is long completed, administrative questions and possible errors have complicated and potentially voided that transfer.

"I'm not indicating that is the case, but that is the question," Dreyfus said. 

Those issues include potential violations by the Rural Home Cemetery Association according to their bylaws as well as a possible open meetings violation.

Dreyfus explained that he was provided with information that Leah Fickau and James Soneberg both voted as plot-owners at the Rural Home Cemetery Association annual meeting that approved the transfer to the village of Big Bend. Soneberg and Fickau are two of three members of the Village of Big Bend Finance Committee. Dreyfus said that would constitute a quorum and if they indeed conducted business that affected the village without proper notice, it could be seen as a violation of the open meetings law and the action taken at that meeting could potentially be void.

Because today's meeting was only to rule on standing, points raised were merely issues the judge felt needed further exploration. Parties will be back in court July 9 and 10 to address motions and testimony. The court order regarding the cemetery will remain in place until July 9. 

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