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Wise Family Funeral celebrates groundbreaking for expansion

Wise Family Funeral owner Michael Wise, joined by his sister, advanced planning consultant Sarah Wise-Schwieger, and the business's outreach coordinator, Melissa Stevens, laugh as they complete the ceremonious shovel with family, friends and staff for a crematorium expansion June 5, 2018. Jackie Renzetti / RiverTown Multimedia

With a crowd of about 40, the Wise Family Funeral staff celebrated the start of construction for a new crematory and parking lot June 5.

Owner Michael Wise and outreach coordinator Melissa Stevens spoke about the value of keeping the deceased in their care throughout the entire process, rather than conducting cremations at an off-site facility.

Wise said that having a crematorium at the funeral home will give grieving family and friends more options, such as taking part in the cremation process.

He’s seen an uptick in cremation requests, which mirrors a national trend. In 2017, the National Funeral Directors Association reported that about half of Americans chose cremation in 2016, up from 48.5 percent in 2015.

The same report said that about 30 percent of funeral homes operate crematories, with 9.4 percent intending to open a crematory within the next five years.

Wise Family Funeral will also double its 23 parking spaces to 50.