Spending at Eighth Street Cemetery still point of contention

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Contention concerning the lack of budgeting to install a wrought iron fence around the Eighth Street Cemetery in Picayune continues to dominate discussions at Picayune City Council meetings.

After the Council handled several routine matters, Councilor Larry Breland brought up the topic of the fence, and also asked why a sheet was distributed at the Nov. 7, Council meeting outlining capital expenses at the city’s various parks.

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Councilor Wayne Gouguet said he asked for the sheet to be made and distributed at the last meeting. Breland said he was unaware of the list and felt it should have been discussed at the last meeting. However, it was stated at the meeting that every Councilor received a copy of the capital expenses via email prior to the previous meeting.

City Attorney Nathan Farmer said the reason the sheet was not discussed is because the topic was not part of the agenda.

Breland said that he has asked for a similar list of expenses at the parks, but his request would add the total expenses, including maintenance and utility costs.

He then moved on to Gouguet’s comment about the fence at the Eighth Street Cemetery being an unnecessary expense in previous coverage by the Item.

“This divisive issue is getting worse,” Breland said.

Gouguet said the reason he feels money within the cemetery fund should be saved is because plots in city-owned cemeteries are running short. He said there are only a handful of plots left in the Eighth Street Cemetery, and as such everyone within the city who wants to be buried in a city-owned cemetery will all be interred at the new cemetery on Palestine Road, which Breland uses as an example for installing a fence at the Eighth Street property. Breland’s contention is that the Palestine Road Cemetery received a new wrought iron fence, so “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Gouguet feels that the money currently in that fund should be reserved for buying new land since he estimates even the new cemetery may only have a ten year life span in relation to available plots.

After the Councilors finished their discussion, which came to no agreement between the two, city resident Martrenia Hawkins took the floor to express her concern about the Council’s division on the cemetery matter and asked for more information.

Councilor Tammy Valente said the reason the Council did not approve a budget that included the fence was because there are several other issues within the city that need to be addressed, such as instances of drainage issues potentially resulting in residential flooding. Valente said she has two such drainage issues within her precinct that did not receive funding.

After Breland repeatedly said the funding is there for the fence and the Council should agree to install it, Gouguet said that just because there is money in a fund, the Council shouldn’t spend it all until there is nothing left. 

Hawkins then asked the Council to come together to do what is right.

Rev. Brian Dees also addressed the Council, asking for the fence to be installed at the Eighth Street Cemetery.

For more on Tuesday’s meeting, see Thursday’s edition of the Item.