Plain Township officials are setting their sights on the cemetery -- and not because Halloween is near.

Plain Township officials are setting their sights on the cemetery -- and not because Halloween is near.

Over the past several weeks, the trustees have approved resolutions to improve the appearance and function of the 15-acre Maplewood Cemetery on Reynoldsburg-New Albany Road.

On Oct. 21, trustees asked township administrator J.B. Bowe and architect Kevin Hoffman to move forward with a project to redo the five cemetery entrances.

Hoffman conducted an invitation-only bidding process with six contracting firms, and three of them returned bid packages Oct. 14.

The lowest bid, which trustees chose to accept Oct. 21, came in at $30,540 from Grove City-based Ideal Masonry and includes both the ornamental railings and the columns at all five entrances.

Hoffman said the range of bids surprised him.

The highest bid came in at $41,000. The township and architect estimate for the project, which should take about three weeks to complete, was $34,500.

"When you talk about a 30-percent variation, that is pretty substantial," he said.

Hoffman said he has worked with all three of the bidding contractors and said Ideal Masonry would do good work.

Bowe said the entrance project is part of a larger plan for the cemetery.

"We have been following a plan that includes a new entrance, trees, shrubs and a walking path out front," he said.

During their Oct. 7 business meeting, trustees approved a resolution to pay the New Albany-based Rocky Fork Co. $5,626 for trees and shrubs at the cemetery.

The trustees also approved a resolution to pay Hoffman $6,000 to update the Maplewood Cemetery master plan, which should be completed in the first half of 2010.

"We have a plan that we did about five years ago," Bowe said. "We just kind of want to reprioritize."

According to a letter from Hoffman to the township, the plan would include an analysis for entry features, timing for asphalt replacement, utilities infrastructure, existing equipment, maintenance, future cemetery offices and landscaping.

The trustees also approved a resolution to purchase a cemetery software system designed by Pontem Software, a company that specializes in software for local governments and cemeteries.

The system will cost $2,390 and will allow township officials to organize cemetery information better, Bowe said.

"It's really a fantastic program," he said. "You'll be able to go in there and pull up Bill Smith and where he was buried."

He said the program would allow officials to run reports and map the cemetery.

Bowe said he is in the process of purchasing a computer to be used solely for the new software.

Bowe said Hoffman would help trustees with what needs to be done at the cemetery in coming years.

"We have about $100,000 budgeted for improvements at the cemetery," he said. "It won't all be done this year."