Two local funeral homes are becoming one to provide better service to the Hastings community.

Caturia, Smidt & Starkson Funeral Home and Crematory and Wise Family Funeral & Cremation Services are merging, according to a news release issued by both businesses. A public announcement was made Wednesday night.

“This history-changing opportunity will bring longevity, continued dedication and expanded professional funeral services to Hastings,” the press release said.

The assets for both businesses will be held by the Starksons, but the Wises will remain a large presence in the operations of the new business. All existing records and advance arrangement files will remain in the care of the respective facilities until the physical consolidation in December.

As for space, business will continue in both existing buildings until construction on a new building is finished. The new funeral home is on track to open December 2018 at 3075 Vermillion St. across from the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Boniface cemeteries.

Both the Starkson and the Wise families agreed that they will be able to do better work for the community of Hastings if they work together, instead of trying to compete against each other.

“Timing couldn’t be better to become one team in the new facility,” Jesse Starkson said.

He and Michael Wise noted that the number of funeral directors is decreasing nationwide and this merger fills an immediate need for an expanded staff of professionals.

The opportunity just makes sense,” Wise said.

The merger will occur over the next few months.

“Both families are passionate about developing programming to support loved ones before, during and long after a death occurs,” their news release said. “Joining forces allows all team members from both existing organizations to come together and work from a place of strength by implementing the best practices and creating nurturing relationships to make a difference for those they serve.”