Upgrades at Vicksburg historic cemetery could include new fees, road and drainage work


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VICKSBURT, Mississippi — A comprehensive plan in the works to improve Vicksburg's historic Cedar Hill Cemetery includes proposals to amend and enforce cemetery regulations and raise fees while improving roads and drainage.

Vicksburg Alderman Michael Mayfield, who chairs a committee of city officials and cemetery directors, told the Vicksburg Post (http://bit.ly/1tiMog6) he will present the proposed plan to Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Alderman Willis Thompson at a board work session Monday.

The 177-year-old, 155-acre cemetery was initially plotted in 1837. That is 12 years after the city was incorporated.

The proposal includes a new cemetery fee schedule to open and close graves. Mayfield would not say what the new charges would be.

The cemetery's fee schedule had not been adjusted in 25 years.

The plan is the result of several meetings by the cemetery committee, which was appointed by Flaggs after a July 14 meeting between the board, cemetery officials, law enforcement and the funeral directors.

The meeting was initially called to discuss traffic problems at the cemetery, but traffic turned out to be one of many problems at the historic site.

People have placed fences around the graves of loved ones in violation of the cemetery regulations, which require prior approval of decorations by cemetery officials before they are put on or around graves.

Many of the items, like vases and fences, are made of plastic. The plastic accents become brittle with age and from the effects of weather. They shatter and scatter when struck by trimmers used by yard crews to remove grass from the graves.

Other problems include the expense of contracting out the cemetery's grass cutting, which Mayfield said takes up a good chunk of the cemetery's budget.

"We have roughly a $450,000 a year operating budget for the city cemetery," he said. "In that operating budget (for the) last three years, we've paid an average of $100,000 a year for grass cutting, which starts in late March and goes into October."

Several areas of the cemetery have drainage problems and landslides are a possibility in some spots.

Information from: The Vicksburg Post, http://www.vicksburgpost.com

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