• 79°

County board says ‘no’ to road to old cemetery

A Brookhaven man promised to continue his efforts to get anaccessible road to an historic Lincoln County cemetery aftersupervisors voted Monday to turn down his request.

“This is not the end,” said Steve Melancon, who has been tryingto get a road to the Old Saron cemetery west of town near thepolice firing range, after being informed of the county’sdecision.

Melancon and several descendants of people buried at Old Saronspoke to supervisors on July 17 about maintaining a road to thecemetery, where some of the county’s first settlers are buried. Aroad already exists by the firing range and the county’scommunications tower, but the cemetery beyond there is accessibleonly by foot.

Supervisors on Monday mentioned several concerns about therequest.

In a letter to be sent to Melancon, Board Attorney Bob Allenindicated the cemetery is a worthwhile project but given thecounty’s economic situation, it is more a private concern than apublic concern.

Other concerns raised Monday included easements to the cemetery,communications tower guideline issues and the possibility of futurecemetery road requests.

“If you do for one, you’ve got to do for all of them,” saidDistrict 2 Supervisor Bobby J. Watts.

Supervisors mentioned a letter published in the newspaper aboutanother old cemetery. If supervisors were inclined to grant theroad request, Allen suggested they establish a criteria formaintaining cemetery roads.

“You’ve got one in the paper, and there’s going to be anotherand another ..,” said District 3 Supervisor Nolan EarlWilliamson.

During the discussion, District 4 Supervisor W.D. “Doug” Moakmentioned the possibility of the city putting a sign on the firingrange gate with a number to call for anyone wanting access to thecemetery. He indicated maintenance of the road was a cityresponsibility.

“I think that it would be their decision on what they want to dowith their road,” Moak said.

Supervisors rejected the road request.

While he disagreed with the decision, Melancon said heappreciated the supervisors acting on the request. Regardingconcerns about other cemeteries, Melancon said that was a “redherring” argument in that other cemeteries couldn’t claim historicsignificance designation through the state Department of Archivesand History.

“The state does not arbitrarily give that designation to any oldcemetery,” Melancon said.

Melancon said he expected city officials would be more sensitiveto the request and planned to pursue help from them.

Over the years, Brookhaven Police Chief Fred McKee said hisdepartment has granted several requests from people wanting to gothe old cemetery. He indicated the department would be willing tocontinue that service.

“We’d certainly be glad to provide a key to anyone who wants toget back there,” McKee said.