Cemetery commission pursues purchase of zero-turn mower

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Eureka Springs Cemetery Commission voted Wednesday, Dec. 12, to have cemetery superintendent Pat Lujan research prices for a commercial grade zero-turn mower.

Lujan said the cemetery’s current zero-turn mower is down again.

“When I came on board, it was in really bad shape,” he said, “so we knew then that eventually we’d have to buy one. We have money set aside for one, and we managed to keep ours alive for two and a half years, which is pretty good.”

He said the commission has spent almost $3,000 on maintenance for the zero-turn mower over the past few years.

“We’re at the point where we need to replace it,” Lujan said. “There is no point putting more money into it. It has electrical issues, and the motor has oil leaks.”

He said the commission has $8,000 set aside in the budget to replace the mower.

The commission also voted to approve the purchase of topsoil for $1,800 for Lujan to fill sinking graves.

Commission Glenna Booth presented a quarterly report on the $9,999 grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program.

Two volunteer cleaning days were held on Sept. 29 and Oct. 27, she said, and 20 volunteers were trained in the proper cleaning methods by conservator Bruce Wright. Booth said work began in the front of the cemetery at the entrance, and the volunteers worked back. She said both sides of the entry road and all of Block 2 have been cleaned for a total of 322 graves cleaned so far. She said Wright has also begun noting the markers which need re-seating and repair and will be starting soon.

The total grant expenses so far have been $4,158.22, Booth said, and she is going to request $2,908.22 from the grant administrator for the first payment. She said she took out $1,250 for the cemetery’s cash match. The total in-kind hours for volunteers, Lujan and cemetery sexton Gloria Stevens totaled $1,988.10, Booth said.

“Our match can be half cash and half in-kind, so we already got our in-kind hours,” she said. “We only needed $1,250 of that, and we’ve had $1,988.10 so far.”

The balance of grant funds is now $7,090.78, Booth said.

Commission chairwoman Susan Tharp said the reason there is still a large portion of the grant funding left is because Wright is going to come in and recover several big headstones that are tilting.

“He will have to go underneath them, dig it out, fill it with concrete and level everything back out,” Tharp said. “It’s kind of a delicate process. The bulk of the money will go to his labor for that. He’s given us an extremely good rate for his labor.”

Booth said the Eureka Springs Preservation Society donated $2,000 for the headstone cleaning project, so she took the equipment expenses out of the donation since the grant cannot pay for those. The equipment expenses totaled $436.70, she said, and the remaining donation balance is $1,563.30.

Lujan said they were able to do only two cleaning sessions this year because they started late.

“We’re hoping to do a lot more in the spring and summer,” he said. “We’re going to do as many as we can. We’ll keep going until we’re out of cleaner. We have two 55-gallon drums of D2 cleaning solution. The cleaning will go on with or without the grant funding because we already have people trained.”

The commission welcomed new commissioner Roderick Beattie, and Tharp announced that another new commissioner, Judy Holden, will be joining in January.

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

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  • I think they should have set a side $10,000-$12,000 for a good commercial grade mower. $8,000 will get you a high end consumer grade mower at best. I guess it depends on what their idea of longevity is.

    -- Posted by JW60 on Thu, Dec 20, 2018, at 8:34 PM
  • Although I forgot to mention in my previous comment. Myself, I wouldn't use a zero turn mower in a cemetery that has grave markers that are close together. Making sharp turns going around grave markers with a zero turn mower will rip the grass out of the ground. They would be much better off with a Commercial stand-On self propelled mower. It would also come closer to fitting the $8,000 budget they are talking about.

    -- Posted by JW60 on Thu, Dec 20, 2018, at 8:49 PM
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