Expansion of Highland Cemetery gets underway
By Ken Childers
Okemah’s Highland Cemetery is expanding to the north, which will result in approximately 18 additional acres of useable space.
Last week, Okemah Mayor Mike Fuller donated his time – and used his personal equipment – to clear the acreage adjacent to the cemetery of trees and brush so the expansion process could begin.
“It was long overdue. We’ve needed this for past five or six years,”Fuller said. “This is just the first step. I’ll be back out there to help level it even more.”
The city purchased the property several years ago for the purposes of expanding the cemetery, but it had not been brush-hogged in quite some time.
“Clearing the land would have cost the city thousands of dollars,”Fuller said. “We’re a city of limited resources. We just couldn’t afford that. I saw a need that I could apply a solution to, and that gives me a great deal of happiness.”
According to Fuller, the land was once home to Triple Heart Dairy and when the dairy ceased operations, it sat vacant for years.
In January 2012, John Bradley, who owned the land at the time, approached then-Vice Mayor Lloyd Raimer about the prospect of the city purchasing the land. Bradley said he was willing to sell the land for $750 per acre – about 75 percent of its appraised value.
A special meeting was set for Feb. 16, 2012 to discuss and take possible action on buying the property and on May 14, 2012 the city approved the purchase, which totaled just over $32,000.
Fuller said it was time for the expansion to begin, because burial space has started to become limited at the existing cemetery. “I saw an opportunity to give back to my city, and this was it. Not everyone has their own bulldozer, and I feel very grateful to be able to use my resources to help out.
There are approximately 1,000 United States veterans buried at Highland Cemetery, and the grave of folk music legend Woody Guthrie can also be found there