Cemetery Update Services

City Council Approves Cemetery Mapping Project

 


As printed in the Friday, March 23rd, 2007 edition of the De Queen Bee & De Queen Daily Citizen.


CEMETERY MAPPING - Mike and Debbie Wiczek of Cemetery Updating Services out of Winona, Minn. are gathering information to compile a digital map on graves and lot ownership at Redmen Cemetery in De Queen. In photo, Mike Wiczek performs a squeegee technique on the headstone of Luke Pearre who served as editor and publisher of "The De Queen Bee" from 1899-1926.

The De Queen City Council approved the project at a special meeting Tuesday, March 20.


DE QUEEN - The De Queen City Council gave Mayor Billy Ray McKelvy approval to proceed with a project to map Redmen Cemetery at a special council meeting Tuesday evening at De Queen City Hall.

McKelvy told aldermen that the project had turned out to be a bigger project than he had anticipated with a projected cost of $27,000 to map the entire cemetery. 

The mayor said he has contacted local funeral homes and area banks for help in financing the project with initial responses indicating a willingness to help. 

McKelvy said he has also heard from individuals with pledges to support the project. 

"If all of the pledges materialize, we will have $19,000," McKelvy said. "If you (the council) are willing to let us do the whole deal, I think we can get the money." 

McKelvy said one option for raising the additional funds is to establish a 5Ol-C3 foundation to appeal for donations for maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. 

He also provided aldermen with a copy of the 1908 ordinance which transferred ownership of the cemetery to the city from Pequot Tribe No. 25 of the Improved Order of Redmen. 

McKelvy said he had written a letter to the National Office of the Improved Order of Redmen to see if they might provide funding, and he said the city might consider a fund-raising campaign to promote the upcoming centennial of the city's ownership of the cemetery. 

Alderman Sterling Daniel said he approved of the project but was concerned that the company compiling the map, Cemetery Updating Services out of Winona, Minn., could not guarantee grave diggers would not hit another grave once the project is complete. 

Despite Daniel's misgivings, echoed by other aldermen, the council told McKelvy to proceed with the project in a unanimous voice vote. 


CEMETERY LAW SUIT:  Also at Tuesday's meeting, Dr. Jeanne Bonner of Anchorage, Alaska, addressed the council concerning plot ownership at the cemetery. 

Bonner said she had purchased two plots in Redmen Cemetery in 1982 when her husband passed away but was later given deeds to two other lots when she learned the lots she had originally purchased had been sold to someone else. 

Bonner said she has since learned that someone else was buried in that plot in 2001., and she requested that the city have those remains moved to another plot. 

Bonner's daughter also addressed the council asking for the city's help in resolving the problem. She said she had been told by a city official that it would take a court order to exhume the body. 

"We came in good faith asking for your help to resolve this matter," she said. "I'm asking that you show the good faith that we have shown in helping us to resolve this transaction."

The council agreed to let City Attorney Stephen Tedder meet with Bonner to try to resolve the matter and report back at a later meeting. 

Also at Thursday's meeting, Lou Colbert, a resident of North Ninth Street, thanked the council for approving a project to provide city sewage services to her house after many years of making similar requests. 

Aldermen present at Tuesday's meeting were Gary Casey, Linda Polk, Teresa Bunyard, Daniel and Kathy Richards. 

McKelvy presided over the meeting and Tedder and City Clerk-Treasurer Donna Jones also attended in their official capacities.

As printed in the Friday, March 23rd, 2007 edition of the De Queen Bee & De Queen Daily Citizen.


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