BUTTE -- The operator of a Butte cremation service will be able to continue business while complaints into his operations are being reviewed by the state.
Jim Axelson, proprietor of Axelson Alternative Cremations in Butte, told The Montana Standard Tuesday afternoon that the Montana Department of Labor and Industry lifted the suspension of his mortician’s license Tuesday. Last week, the state’s Board of Funeral Services took “emergency action” and suspended his license.
Wayrynen-Richards Funeral Home in Butte and Longfellow-Finnegan Funeral Home in Anaconda filed complaints last year to the state against Axelson, contending that he is violating state regulations by not operating his business within a properly licensed mortuary.
The board temporarily suspended Axelson’s license during a hearing on March 5. Axelson’s attorney, Greg Black, met with an attorney for the Department of Labor this week and was able to get Axelson’s suspension lifted Tuesday, Axelson said.
A hearing before the Department of Labor will determine the future of Axelson’s license. No date has been set for that hearing.
Tuesday’s decision will allow Axelson to continue working.
“I will now be able to serve families in Butte and Anaconda,” he said.
John Hossfeld of Wayrynen-Richards told The Standard on Friday that the complaints allege Axelson is breaking state law by not using a licensed mortuary when storing and disposing of human remains.
A licensed mortuary is subject to regular inspections and must meet state standards for handling human remains, which are necessary for public and environmental safety, Hossfeld said. Alternative Cremations does not have the facilities necessary for licensing, according to the state panel.
The state’s decision to lift Axelson’s suspension comes with stipulations.
These include that bodies must be placed in cremation containers at a licensed mortuary before being cremated. Axelson also may not personally accept payments for prearranged services. Payments must be made directly to a licensed mortuary. Axelson says he is able to comply with those stipulations.
Axelson Alternative Cremations only performs cremation services.
The only other mortuary in Butte, Duggan Dolan Mortuary, handles cremations as well as funeral services and arrangements.