Cemetery commission pursues grant to preserve headstones

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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

project.

"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.

12.

"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

this cycle."

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

and education

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

fabric

Booth said the cemetery, if approved for

the national register, can apply for the grant

annually.

"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

category.

"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

the headstones.

"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

cemetery' situation."

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

the meeting.

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 area.

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

maintenance needs.

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

in giving."

Tharp suggested the commission discuss

allocating funds to be added on to tractor

donations when finalizing the budget at its

next meeting.

The commission voted to approve establishing

a tractor fund line item in the

budget.

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.

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