Oakland graves discussed by Mingo council

MINGO JUNCTION – Placement of tombstones in Oakland Cemetery was discussed during Tuesday’s Village Council meeting.

Several village residents approached council inquiring about placement of tombstones in the cemetery and expressed concern that some of the stones were misplaced when graves were moved. Residents also expressed concern that future tombstones could encroach on adjacent graves.

Steve Maguschak, village administrator, said several tombstones dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s in an older part of the cemetery may not line up with graves due to the way they were placed at the time of burial. He also said while in the past some stones may not have been perfectly placed when graves were moved, the village was doing what it could to prevent any issues in the future. He added it would be cost prohibitive for the village to move every single stone to perfectly match every grave, particularly in the cemetery’s older section.

“That would be a whole lot of moving,” said Maguschak. “(The village) would need a whole lot of money to do that.”

Maguschak and Councilman Chuck Dickey also said the issue had been discussed during previous council meetings and an ordinance adopted that all future stones must be placed at the head of the grave, face the east and not be placed back to back.

“We did (enact legislation) tombstones now have to be at the head of the grave,” said Dickey.

Maguschak agreed with Dickey. He also acknowledged mistakes had been made in the past, and he apologized on the village’s behalf.

“There are no excuses,” he said. “It’s unfortunate when something like this happens. There have been mistakes made in the past. All we can do is apologize.”

In other matters:

Council debated whether it would be feasible to sue the consulting firm that engineered the village’s splash pad, as Maguschak informed council the pad isn’t working. Some councilmen believed the village already has invested too much money into the pad. Mayor John Fabian said the pad has so far cost the village $329,000.

Village Solicitor Ernie Wilson said it would take funds to hire an engineering firm to “prove the (previous engineering firm) did something wrong. That’s the bottom line.”

Maguschak said he would look into the cost of repairing the pad and report back to council.

Maguschak said recent problems with sediment in the village’s water system had been resolved.

“Our water quality has been greatly improved,” said Maguschak, adding water lines will be flushed every April and October to prevent further problems.

Maguschak also said the Lincoln Avenue project to separate the village’s storm and waste water systems would be completed in October. He said the village recently repaired several potholes on village streets and more would be repaired in the near future.

Councilman Mike Herrick, chairman of the cemetery and recreation committee, told council members he would investigate the cost of installing a new diving board at the village pool, including any additional possible insurance costs.

Evan Scurti, director of the Jefferson County Port Authority, gave a brief presentation on the authority and its function.

Council approved closing the 200 block of Eleanor Street from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday for a block party.

(Miller can be contacted at mmiller@heraldstaronline.com.)