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Funeral home expands with new service





Brock's North Hill Chapel, founded more than 90 years ago, recently expanded its funeral home services to include a crematory.

Purchased by Ron Keithley in 2008, Brock's has undergone several renovations during the last few years.

"We've been building since we've taken over from Gary (Boeve)," Keithley said. "This is just one more step we could do."

Housed in a new 1,200-square foot addition to the existing building at 2509 Vine, the crematory has been in use since Feb. 6.

Keithley and his employee, Jeff Brungardt, will serve as operators of the crematory. They have undergone training from the unit's manufacturer and will participate in continuing education classes every two years, Keithley said.

It's the first crematory in Ellis County, and Keithley said he has done extensive research on the cremation process, learning as much as possible regarding environmental concerns.

The 20,000-pound unit, which was purchased from Crematory Manufacturing and Service in Tulsa, Okla., and delivered by crane by Hess Services Inc., is designed to eliminate possible air pollutants, operating with "very low emissions," he said.

"I haven't really heard anything negative about it," he said. "Obviously, there are concerns and we have the same ones.

"That's the bottom line. ... So far, it's gotten off to a good start."

With the nearest crematories located in Salina and Dodge City, Keithley said he considered several factors before moving ahead with his plans.

"We just felt like, with the number of cremations on the rise and with confirmation from funeral homes outside of Ellis County that are going to use us for their trade service, we knew we could make it work," he said. "And we've been pretty busy."

Families increasingly have been opting for cremation, Keithley said, because of convenience and cost-savings, which typically can be about half of a traditional funeral.

Since opening three weeks ago, 19 cremations, 18 from outside Ellis County, have been performed. Keithley said the northwest Kansas funeral homes he has worked with have been pleased by the opportunity to cut down travel times.

"The turn-around time is going to be much quicker here than traveling that distance (to Dodge City or Salina)," he said.