Two island communities looking for cemeteries

Posted: Friday, January 26, 2007

KETCHIKAN - Two Prince of Wales Island communities, Hollis and Thorne Bay, want to buy land from the state to use as cemeteries.

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Hollis is trying buy a 10-acre site about a half-mile from the Hollis School because there already are 12 graves at the location that date back to the early 1900s, Community Council President Budd Burnett said.

"We would like to have a cemetery here, not only for Hollis but island-wide," Burnett said.

Burnett said the community would use a $3,000 grant to buy the land.

The state is willing to sell the property at less than fair market value because it is for public use, according to Ted Deats, a specialist with the Department of Natural Resources.

He said different state agencies are reviewing the proposed project making sure it is consistent with the Alaska Coastal Management Program. He expects a final determination by the end of February.

If the proposed use is found to be consistent with the coastal management program, then there will be a public comment period on the sale, he said.

Hollis would use part of the land for a picnic area, which volunteers would help develop, Burnett said.

"It would be an asset to the community, part of our infrastructure," he said.

The City of Thorne Bay also is looking to acquire state land for a cemetery.

Thorne Bay Mayor Jim Gould said the city has long wanted to build a cemetery, but not until a couple of local people died in the past 18 months did the public really start emphasizing the need.

Acquiring land for a cemetery has been a real issue for Thorne Bay residents after trouble last year in not being able to find a place to bury a local young man, Gould said.

The Thorne Bay City Council passed a resolution last spring to acquire state land near Setter Creek to use as a cemetery.

But because Thorne Bay has gone through two city administrators in the past year, Gould said he was left with the cemetery paperwork as well as other city administrator duties. He said he had not had time to advance the cemetery issue since taking office as mayor two months ago.

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