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The City Journals

1,000 new plots coming soon to Riverton City Cemetery

Jun 05, 2019 03:38PM ● By Mariden Williams

Once the new sod (abutting the fence at the back of the pictures) settles in, occupants of the crowded Riverton City Cemetery will have a little elbow room—for a little while, at least. City staff estimates that 300 plots will be sold this year alone. (Mariden Williams/City Journals)

By Mariden Williams | [email protected]

A much-needed expansion to Riverton's at-capacity city cemetery is well underway. 

City officials spent around $75,000 to annex another acre of land into cemetery, which will allow space for about 1000 more burial plots. Some of that money has also been used to improve the cemetery's flagpole and surrounding garden, as well as to commission two granite memorial stones. 

"It's coming along nicely," said Sheril Garn, Riverton's parks and public services director. "Everything will be finished for Memorial Day, with the exception of the granite markers."

Of course, the big question is, when will people be able to begin buying plots? Apparently, potential purchasers will literally have to sit around waiting for the grass to grow: the freshly planted sod will need to settle into the ground for six to eight weeks before it will be strong and healthy enough to be walked on, or dug into. 

"We are looking anywhere from July 1 to July 15 before we will begin selling plots," said Garn. 

"Based on the fact that our cemetery currently has no available lots, and the timing of lots sold the last time the cemetery was expanded, a sale of approximately 300 burial lots is anticipated this year," said Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs.

In addition to the extra plots, the improved cemetery will include two granite marking stones listing every veteran buried there. The lettering will be white against the black granite, with veterans listed according to their year of death. They will be engraved once a year just prior to Memorial Day. 

Originally, there was interest in also listing which military branch and what conflict deceased veterans served in, but after some deliberation, city staff decided it would be best to keep things simple and list only their names and death years. 

"We are not comfortable with listing the conflict they served in, or the arm of the military they served in, just because our records are very fuzzy," said Garn. "We just felt like we wanted to keep the information as accurate as possible."  

In order to prevent veterans from being incorrectly immortalized on large slabs of stone, families of the deceased will be able to review all spellings and dates at the cemetery's 2019 Memorial Day service.

"For Memorial Day, we will have corrugated cardboard signage with all of these names on them to show the public what it's going to look like,” Garn said. “At that time, we will invite our residents to please check the spelling and death and birth years, so that we make sure we get it right.”

The markers won't be ready to install until closer to November, so those will be unveiled at Riverton's Veterans Day service instead. But the Memorial Day service may still feature something new: a performance from the Riverton Youth Choir, suggested by Councilmember Tawnee McCay. 

"I've seen that done in other cities, and I think it encourages more families to come and watch those kids, and it brings a special feeling to the service," said McCay.