Bono residents express concern over grave digging policy

(Source: KAIT-TV)
(Source: KAIT-TV)

BONO, AR (KAIT) - Bono residents are concerned after a recent decision by the town's city council.

On February 20, council members, by a three to two vote, decided to discontinue digging graves.

Mayor Danny Shaw of Bono said they first began looking into the issue when people voiced concerns over it.

"One thing, we had several members of the community that voiced opposition to the idea of it," Shaw said. "Due to the fact that we don't have cemeteries in our town. We've got them outside our city limits. But anyway, we've had a lot of talk about this from the community. And we will probably revisit this idea at the next council meeting and maybe look at possibly doing it on a more just inside the city limits for people just inside the city limits of Bono. Maybe continue doing that."

Shaw said the city has been digging graves since the 1980s.

"The city of Bono has been helping with grave digging for several years," Shaw said. "Possibly this has been going on as far back as 1985, doing grave digging. We did it for residents of Bono. At some point in time, in outlying areas of Bono was dug also, but charged a rate for that and that rate has finally gotten up to $175."

Mayor Shaw said this is not a service the city has profited from.

"It's not a thing the city of Bono ever made any money doing," Mayor Shaw said. "It takes a day for someone to go and dig a grave, usually two people. We have a machine tied up. Sometimes the machine has to be moved from a job that it's working on and it may fall on a weekend or a holiday and all that is expensive. And so, that's why we looked at not doing it."

One of the council members requested at the January council meeting that the issue be looked into.

"It has been a cost to the city," Mayor Shaw said. "When I actually brought it to the council, I brought it at the request of one of the council members. And my only question was if we're going to do this, give me criteria by which I determine who we dig for and who we don't dig for. Because that had been a real grey area for me. So, the motion was made and seconded to discontinue altogether. And then, that's what was voted on. So, we're probably going to revisit that again and have some more discussion on it at the March council meeting."

Shaw said there are no cemeteries in the city limits.

"We don't have cemeteries within the city limits of Bono," Shaw said. "We do have three cemeteries that we offered to dig in that are close to Bono, which are the Trinity Cemetery, Union Grove Cemetery and the Oak Ridge Cemetery. Those are all close to Bono and that's the three cemeteries we've dug in before."

Shaw said the concern is that they're actually doing something they're not supposed to.

"The problem is, and we learned this at our municipal league training," Mayor Shaw said. "You shouldn't do anything for one person that you can't do for everyone. The other thing is that you shouldn't do any work on private property. And so, we're doing all of those things that we shouldn't be doing. And we have been doing it as a service. So, we're just going to have to look at that and see."

Shaw said when they started looking into this issue, the intent was never to harm anyone or take a service away.

He said they only wanted to do right by the city.

"This was never a thing to take away a service from the community," Shaw said. "On my part, certainly, it was just a way of clarifying who we actually wanted to do this for."

Shaw said because citizens have voiced a concern about the issue, they will revisit it during their next city council meeting in March.

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