City cemetery is in path of new water, sewer lines -- Blasting raises concern, questions from some Star-Trib readers

Wednesday, July 9, 2003

BERRYVILLE ---- Concerns over blasting in the Berryville Memorial Cemetery came to the attention of Carroll County Newspapers reporters last week.

At the time, Journagan Construction workers were preparing to blast their way down a city-owned cemetery road to lay water and sewer lines for annexed land at the west end of Berryville.

Michael Mathis, with Mathis, Carter and Associates, engineers for the project, said the route chosen through the cemetery would cause the least amount of damage.

Mathis said he had worked with members of the cemetery board, the city, and Nelson Funeral Service when establishing the route.

In addition, Mathis said the bid package included supplemental orders regarding passage through the cemetery, insuring that the route taken would be strictly adhered to, nothing would be disturbed, and that seismographic readings would be taken to make sure there was not too much vibration.

Blasting in the cemetery is not uncommon. Because of bedrock, some gravesites have been blasted to prepare the ground for burial.

According to Mathis, blasting is a precise profession.

"You can blast under the foundation of a house and not disturb the foundation," he explained.

He said the use of a trencher is not preferred because a trencher is much less accurate.

"The contractor could trench or hammer," he stated. "We can't dictate what method they use."

Doug Sparks, with Nelson Funeral Service and a member of the cemetery board, said the project had his support and that of the cemetery board.

"I went out with them last year and showed them where to go," he said. "As far as we can see, there is no problem."

Bob Parton, job foreman with Journagan Construction, said engineers determine the route.

"I know where everyone is coming from," he said when told of concerns. "I've talked to Nelsons and they said if we stay in the road we should be okay."

Besides the apparent willingness of the cemetery commission, the city, the engineers and the Journagan crew to work together in the laying of lines through the cemetery, Arkansas law clearly gives them the right to do so.

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