MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 27, 2013

County to pave near cemetery

Work should improve access to Fort Gibson National Cemetery

By Wendy Burton

— FORT GIBSON — A road project dreamed of in the late 90s will soon come to fruition, thanks to assistance from the Cherokee Nation, officials said.

 District 1 County Commissioner Gene Wallace visited the Fort Gibson National Cemetery to chat with its Director Bill Rhoades on Friday afternoon.

Wallace said the county will soon begin an overlay and asphalt project, which will improve Cemetery Road east of the cemetery and Two Mile Road, both north and south of Cemetery Road.

Rhoades and Wallace discussed whether the road work will interfere with any interment ceremonies and talked about ways to avoid doing so.

Rhoades said he doesn’t think it will cause a problem with traffic or noise.

“I think it’s a great project,” Rhoades said. “We try to be good stewards in the community, and I think it’s great the community thinks of us.”

Wallace said in about 1999, he visited with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to try to get funding for a road that would loop around the cemetery. He also contacted various politicians and other officials in an attempt to get the project under way.

But the road was only approved from U.S. 62, up Willey Road to the cemetery entrance back then, Wallace said.

“But now, thanks to Don Garvin and the Cherokee Nation stepping up, we’re going to be able to finish this loop,” Wallace said.

Garvin is the Cherokee National Tribal Council member whose district covers the area where the road work will be done, and the Cherokee Nation has offered the county about $61,000 toward the project, Wallace said.

Garvin said he’s excited to see the project begin.

“We’ve talked about this for some time and that it will help with veterans reaching their final resting place. Well, that is just a wonderful thing,” Garvin said. “We’re glad to be partners with the county.”

Wallace said the county’s portion of the project is estimated to be around $200,000 for materials.

Two Mile Road will be re-done and striped from County Line Road on the north to Oklahoma 10 on the south, Wallace said.

Cemetery Road will be done from the cemetery entrance to Two Mile Road.

Reach Wendy Burton at (918) 684-2926 or wburton@muskogeephoenix.com.