Cemetery approved for grant for historic registry application

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Eureka Springs Cemetery could be on the National Register of Historic Sites within the next year.

Cemetery superintendent and commission chairwoman Susan Tharp announced to the Eureka Springs Cemetery Commission at its meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 2, that the cemetery has been approved for a grant funding its application process.

“I was contacted by [city historic preservation officer] Glenna Booth the other day,” Tharp said. “We have been approved for a grant, but that grant is to pay for a person to write up our application for our historical preservation.”

The grant writer is going to try to attend one of the commission’s meetings soon, she said.

“Things are cooking there. I’m not sure we’re going to make it for the December approval with the state board,” Tharp said, “so it might be the next one after that in May. We’ve waited this long. We can be patient.”

For the application for the national register, the commission will need to describe the history behind the people buried in Eureka Springs and will be asked to submit photos as well. The commission has also been assessing the death dates in the cemetery to be sure 51 percent of the death gates are 50 years old or older, qualifying the site for the national register.

Tharp and Booth have been using cemetery records to catalog graves for the application, and cemetery sexton Gloria Stevens has been reviewing burial records to help sort out any inconsistencies.

There are a lot of records to sift through, Tharp said, and the cemetery is always looking for volunteers to help collect and review the information.

“I’m confident our application will go through,” she said.

The commission later voted to approve having the sexton charge the appropriate tax amount on cornerstones so that the customer is absorbing the cost instead of the cemetery.

The cornerstones had not been taxed previously, and Tharp said the commission would need to check with Alpena Monument Works, which produces cornerstones for the graves in the cemetery, to determine the current tax rate.

“It just changed, and it will change in another two months,” she said. “Then it will change again because Eureka Springs approved the new parks tax, so we need to check with Alpena.”

“I have already told people looking at plots that I would more than likely be starting to charge tax on cornerstones,” Stevens said, “so they are aware of it.”

Also at the meeting, Tharp announced that she would be meeting with mayor Butch Berry on Wednesday, Aug. 9, in regard to shifting the responsibilities and hours of one of the cemetery’s groundskeeper positions.

The cemetery has two part-time groundskeepers, she said, who each work 24 hours a week.

“The chairperson has responsibilities of the superintendent. That person is not on site all the time, but they are on call 24/7,” she said. “There are certain responsibilities of the chairperson and superintendent, because that person holds two positions, that are making it really hard on the chairperson.”

Many of the calls the superintendent receives could easily be answered by the groundskeeper, Tharp said, so the commission voted at its previous meeting to look into combining some of the superintendent’s responsibilities with those of the groundskeepers.

“Since the groundskeeper is at the cemetery all the time, we’re shifting some of the responsibilities,” she said. “Initial phone calls will go to [the groundskeeper] instead of coming to me. We’re looking into shifting some of those responsibilities and increasing the hours for the position.”

The commission also welcomed new commissioner Luther “L.B.” Wilson at the meeting.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 23, in the lobby of the Auditorium.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: