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Macon requests funding for Cherokee gravesite memorial

Plans to memorialize a Cherokee gravesite found earlier this year in the midst of construction for a new baseball tournament complex in Macon County now have some hard costs attached to them, and the county has requested funding from the Cherokee Preservation Foundation to make them happen. 

 “It was well received,” Commissioner Ronnie Beale said of the request, which he brought to the foundation’s director, Annette Clapsaddle, earlier this month.

Clapsaddle will look over the plans with her staff and bring them to the Preservation Foundation’s board of directors — of which Beale is a member — in January. Beale will abstain from any resulting vote. 

“They can use our design or come up with one of their own,” Beale explained. 

Macon County submitted two options for the site, one estimated to cost $25,400 and the other $19,400. Both designs would feature a rebar grate over the grave to protect it as well as concrete walkways around the site and dirt with plantings to cover the rebar. 

The costlier design, though, would dedicate more space to the site, featuring a park-like atmosphere with more elaborate plantings of trees and shrubs, as well as a rock salt finish upgrading the sidewalks. 

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The cost estimates, said Macon County Planner Matt Mason, are “assuming that maintenance constructs the rebar grate and installs the benches. The number does not include the informational kiosks.”

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has a contact who can do the kiosks more cheaply than Macon could arrange for them to be done, Mason said. 

The county is asking for the Preservation Foundation to provide total funding for the gravesite memorial but is also hoping that Cherokee will help offset the cost of changing site plans to accommodate the gravesite after its discovery in July. Macon County will make that separate request to Tribal Council sometime in early 2015. 

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