Cemetery commission pursues grant to preserve headstones
While the Eureka Springs Cemetery
Commission waits to hear the status on its
nomination for the National Register of Historic
Places, it is proceeding with a grant to
conserve headstones in the cemetery.
City preservation officer Glenna Booth
attended the commission's Wednesday
meeting to update the commissioners on the
"We've been working for over a year to
get the cemetery on the National Register of
Historic Places," she said.
A consultant, Beth Valenzuela of Valenzuela
Preservation Studio, was hired through a
grant to complete the commission's application,
Booth said, and submitted it to the
Arkansas Register of Historic Places on Jan.
"We got a couple of minor changes and
approved it to be heard on April 4 by the
state review board," she said. "They review
all the national register nominations that
have been submitted quarterly and will be
doing that April 4 in Little Rock."
Booth said Valenzuela will attend the
event to present her application.
"One reason we wanted to do this, other
than the honor, was to make us eligible
for the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program's
cemetery grant," Booth said. "They
do an annual grant program, and one of the
options they added a couple of years ago
was for cemeteries."
She continued, "The cemeteries have to
be on the national register to be eligible. We
don't really fit the timeframe exactly, but,
since we are under consideration, they said
we could go ahead and submit our grant for
The grant application is due March 9,
she said, and the commission can request
between $5,000 and $9,999. The grant requires
a 20 percent match either in cash or in
kind, she said, and 10 percent of the match
must be in cash.
"The other 10 percent can be in kind, such
as services, labor and that kind of thing,"
Booth said. "We have to verify that match
on our application."
She presented the commissioners with a
summary of the activities that are eligible
for the cemetery grant. They are as follows:
• Preservation: activities that help perpetuate
and care for historic burial sites, including
planning, maintenance, documentation
• Conservation: mechanical and chemical
processes used to treat damaged markers
• Stabilization: treatments executed to
retain the greatest cultural and structural integrity
of an artifact, such as historic buildings
or fencing, and the site overall with a
minimum of intervention on the historic
Booth said the cemetery, if approved for
the national register, can apply for the grant
"We can only receive one grant per year,"
she said. "Right now, there aren't that many
cemeteries on the national register, so the
pool is small. That's why we're trying to get
this going. I think at this point we have a
good chance if we submit a good application."
Commission chairwoman Susan Tharp
said being a newer cemetery on the national
register would likely increase their chances
of receiving the grant.
Commissioner Luther "L.B." Wilson noted
that the deadline to submit a grant application
is coming up soon.
"We need to pick a project we can put
together in the shortest amount of time because
of the deadline," Tharp said.
Wilson suggested they look into the conservation
"Several tombstones are fallen over and
broken," he said. "Some facelifting of those
might be the first priority. It might be the
easiest as far as the amount of information
to get in a short time."
Cemetery superintendent Pat Lujan
agreed, noting that he has begun making a
list of some of the headstones in different
blocks needing repairs.
"That was my first thought. There are
some big ones about to fall over," he said.
Lujan said he had reached out to a few
businesses for estimates on the cost of repairing
"You could also have someone do a
workshop while doing repairs," Booth suggested.
"You may have a volunteer base interested
in learning proper conservation and
cleaning techniques, sort of a 'friends of the
Tharp recommended the commission
hold a workshop on the cemetery grounds
to look into the conservation project for thegrant application. She said she would contact
an area stone mason to attend the workshop
to offer estimates and advice.
The commission voted to pursue the conservation
activities for the grant application.
They scheduled a workshop at the cemetery
for Thursday, Feb. 22. Tharp said the
time would depend on the stone mason's
schedule and she would follow up with the
commissioners on the exact time prior to
Tharp thanked Booth for her work on
the historic register application.
"We appreciate all the work you've been
doing on this, Glenna," Tharp said.
The commission later voted to have the
cemetery sexton offer clients a choice between
cement markers for $75 and granite
markers for $200 on all plot sales. This
does not include burial sites for cremains.
The commission also voted to remove
plots 9, 10, 11, 12, 17, 18, 19 and 20 from
the Old Simmons Site and turn them into
service areas. This was done to enable the
groundskeepers to navigate mowers and
tractors through the plots in order to maintain
The commission also discussed updates
on its goal of acquiring a tractor for
cemetery use. Wilson said he had spoken
to Mayor Butch Berry, who has agreed to
let the cemetery borrow a large tractor for
Lujan said the commission has also received
an anonymous $4,000 donation for
the purchase of a small tractor.
Wilson asked why a small tractor would
be necessary if the city is allowing the
cemetery to borrow one.
"The city may let us use their big tractor,
but a smaller tractor gives me a lot more
ability to fill graves and dig new plots," Lujan
said. "Ultimately, it will give us more
plots for sale."
He said he would like to see the commission
set aside $3,000 from the cemetery
fund to put toward purchasing a tractor.
"That will get us to $7,000," Lujan said.
"We can continue accepting donations for
the rest. Quite a few people are interested
Tharp suggested the commission discuss
allocating funds to be added on to tractor
donations when finalizing the budget at its
The commission voted to approve establishing
a tractor fund line item in the
The commission voted to set the budget
workshop for 9 a.m. Wednesday, March
14, which will be 30 minutes before its
regular meeting at 9:30 a.m. that morning.