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La Grande Observer Daily Paper 09/17/14

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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Cemetery watering woes remain on hold

Cemetery watering woes remain on hold

ENTERPRISE — Long under criticism for its lack of green grass, the Enterprise Cemetery is going to have to wait a little longer for a new watering system.

This summer the cemetery board has been working out the costs of installing a new irrigation system in response to repeated requests from family members of those buried and interred there. Following a May 16 public meeting and a subsequent budget committee meeting, the board agreed to purchase backflow valves to be in compliance with federal law, the first step toward providing adequate water to the 12-acre lawn.

That decision has been put on hold until the City of Enterprise works out its water master plan. The city is faced with its own compliance issues and has until 2016 to come up with a plan and a way to pay for new pipes that will increase the city’s water pressure.

Until recently the city had a wooden pipe that ran through the cemetery. Two years ago they decided to replace that wooden pipe and disconnected the cemetery, said cemetery board member Lee Bollman. Since then the grass has not been watered.

Bollman said in order to create an irrigation plan, those pipes must be located and dug up. Then the city works manager and plumber need to assess exactly what needs to be done to plumb a watering system. The city estimates $9,400 in parts which does not include labor. At the earliest this assessment would happen is the fall, Bollman said.

Restoring water to the cemetery has become a chicken-and-egg game. Bollman said a local farmer installed pipe underground in the 1950s in preparation for watering the lawns, but it was never used.

“Max Gorsline put in pipe, but it was never connected to anything so in the 80s someone decided to connect it and Max donated the farm pipes for an irrigation system,” Bollman said.

Meanwhile, the city is exploring how to meet its own federal law obligations and the cemetery board decided until that’s completed, they do not want to go to the expense of starting the project, Bollman said.

“We don’t want to put in valves until the city figures out what it’s going to do. No reason to spend money and time until then,” Bollman said. “We are willing to do it but once we do, we’ve depleted the money totally.”

The board decided in the face of public pressure to create a watering plan and must dip into a fund set aside to build a second columbarium. The first was built a few years ago and half of the 120 drawers have been purchased. That $30,000 will now go to construct an irrigation system. The backflow valves are estimated at $12,000 and a Kifco water reel, perhaps the cheapest option, will cost roughly $10,000, Bollman said.

Bollman said the annual operating budget of $22,000 from property tax revenue is only enough to cover maintenance and operating costs. Other options are going out to vote to increase the .07 per $1,000 levy or ask for donations. 

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.

 
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