116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst met with funeral home directors and those associated with Powell Funeral Homes in Keota, a fifth-generation family-owned funeral home on Friday, July 23. This stop was part of the Senator’s 99-county tour that she embarks on each year to meet with local constituents and hear their concerns.
A major concern at Powell’s Funeral Home was navigating COVID-19 through the lens of funeral directors, a perspective often forgotten throughout the pandemic. Hosting visitations and services outdoors, rotating family members to attend such services and incorporating technology in the form of live-streaming events are all new ways funeral homes altered services for those who lost a loved one.
“We were very blessed because the weather was getting warmer,” Executive Director of the Iowa Funeral Home Association, Suzanne Gebel, said. “Funeral directors were becoming the most creative people at that time in my opinion.”
Powell Funeral Home funeral directors believe live-streaming visitations and services will continue, as they try to meet the demands of national and international watchers. Mandates and regulations differed from funeral home to funeral home across the state.
Ernst’s main topic of discussion was the impacts farmers and small businesses in Iowa will face regarding the Farm-to-Table tax Democrats posed recently that will come out of the next spending package. Ernst emphasized that the plan will create more of a challenge for families wanting to pass down their farm or business to future generations, and will increase production and purchase costs.
“There’s a lot going on in that space right now and this is where we see a lot of worry especially in Iowa, whether you’re in farming or funeral business because 97 or 98 percent of Iowa’s businesses are small businesses, and a chunk of those are family-owned,” Ernst said.
Having grown up in rural Iowa, Ernst was able to relate to most concerns expressed by constituents present on Friday.
“Whatever changes they make, they plan to make it retroactive to the beginning of the year,” Ernst said. “A lot of folks are not sure how to do their family planning right now which will bleed over into areas of concern when people are losing a loved one.”
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