Bellefonte resident lodges complaint at funeral home

BELLEFONTE — A Bellefonte resident brought her concerns about a local funeral home to borough council earlier this week.

During public comment on Monday night, Elizabeth Hay spoke at length about the Wetzler Funeral Service and Victorian Crematory Inc., located at 206 N. Spring St.

According to Hay, there is a “strong odor” coming from the funeral home.

“With some regularity, we will smell charred bodies,” Hay said. “We will get that smell. It’s very disconcerting. It’s very upsetting. I know there’s been some issues with that even before I moved in here.”

Hay said she has lived a few doors down from the funeral home for four years.

She also told council that last Saturday night, around 8:30 p.m., there were “flames coming out of the stack” at the crematorium.

She estimated that flames three to five feet in height were shooting from the stack.

Hay said that she is concerned about homes and other structures in the area.

“In this small vicinity is the Girl Scout House, two old wooden garages, plus all the houses in this proximity. If you have not been going by when it’s on, it is a blast furnace … this is something very dangerous to have in town … I’m very concerned,” Hay said.

Hay said she called 911 last week because of the flames.

“This is not OK to have this in the middle of town. We don’t need another fire,” Hay said.

Borough manager Ralph Stewart said that the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) handles complaints of this nature.

“We’re not trying to get rid of a business in town. We’re trying to regulate things for the safety of our community,” said council president Joanne Tosti-Vasey.

Council member Michael Prendergast, who lives nearby, said that he has encountered similar issues.

“I called the police for odor emanating from the stack. I had noticed it on numerous occasions … it is nauseating,” Prendergast said.

According to Hay, the smell can be overwhelming at times.

“It came in my house. It went through my windows. It’s an old house and some odors get in. That’s just not acceptable,” Hay said.

Hay said that she was not trying to run a local business out of town.

“Nobody wants to get rid of Wetzler’s. Other than that, they’re a fabulous neighbor to have … I just want them to be a safe neighbor,” she said.

Dylan Wetzler of Wetzler Funeral Service and Victorian Crematory Inc., said that it was the first he’d heard of an issue.

“We’ve never had a complaint before,” Wetzler said.

Council unanimously agreed to contact DEP to ask for an inspection of the crematorium.

— In other business, Bellefonte mayor Tom Wilson swore in new council member Mary Abbott. She replaces Gina Thompson as the representative in the borough’s South Precinct. Thompson recently resigned after taking a part-time position with the borough.

Council will meet again at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 3. The meeting will be held via Zoom and available on C-NET.


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