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Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
Lincoln , Montana
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July 28, 2016     Blackfoot Valley Dispatch
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July 28, 2016
 

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PAGE 12 BLACKFOOT VALLEY DISPATCH JULY 28, 2016 Flowers, wreaths and flags adorn the more recent grave sites in the cemetery last May. (the appraised value} from from pg. 1 the county to purchase 4.77 acres of cemetery land from anyway at the town's old the Forest Service. The plat cemetery, and discussions for the site now calls it Lin- among the Forest Service coln Gulch Cemetery. and Lincoln residents and "We're really pleased to Lewis and Clark County of- be able to provide that to ficials sought a solution, the Lincoln community," Talks between the county said Bill Avey, Helena-Lewis and Forest Service began and Clark National Forest in earnest about five years supervisor. ago, said Eric Bryson, the The Forest Service lacked county's chief administra- legal authority to allow new tive officer, burials in the cemetery, Avey On July 14, those discus- said, explaining this left the sions concluded wiih $3,600 Forest Service in a difficult position because it couldn't meet the community's needs. The Forest Service also lacked a simple way to transfer the cemetery out of the forest, he added. Often, authorization to transfer a cemetery from forest lands ends up as a matter for congressional ap- proval, Avey said. This process didn't in- volve all of Congress but it did become an issue for Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said county commission Chair- man Mike Murray. "Without the assistance of Sen. Tester, I don't think it would have happened," Murray said. "I know the senator got somebody's attention at the national level," he added while also expressing his appreciation for the support received from national and local Forest Service officials. The county commission plans to create a cemetery district and appoint trustees to manage it, Murray said, adding this will happen "as soon as possible." A five-person board would likely be created for the cemetery's manage- ment, Bryson said. After the board is in place, it would determine the costs for the cemetery's annual operation and maintenance, he said, and added he expected the board would then consider seeking a levy or assessment to pay those costs. People in Lincoln have encouraged the county commission to return con- trol of the cemetery to their town, Murray said, noting that residents have waited long enough for the transfer to occur. "I think it's incredibly important to the commu- nity," Bryson saidl "It's their ancestral heritage that's buried there." Bonnie Shown is among Lincoln residents who are pleased to have the cem- etery under local control. "I'm just thrilled," she said. Shemoved to Lincoln in 1974 with her daughter to be closer to her parents who eventually retired there after building a cabin outside of town in 1951. For perhaps 40 years or longer she and others in town have cared for the old cemetery, Shown said. After the localVFW post closed and its membership merged with the East Hel- ena post, a group of Lincoln residents that may number 20 gather at the cemetery on the Saturday before Me- morial Day for the annual cleanup. Many of her friends are buried there, said Shown, who inherited the cem- etery's books about 10 years ago. "It brings back a lot of good memories." American Legion Post 9 places American flags at veterans' graves for Memo- rial Da ' and Veterans Day, Shown said, adding, "They do a good job for us. It keeps our cemetery looking sharp." The community intends to preserve the historical character of the old cem- etery, said Shown and Bryson. The townsite and ceme- tery qualify for listing on the National Register of Histori- cal Places, and community residents want to preserve the cemetery's historic na- ture, Shown said. Work is Ongoing to pre- pare the paPerwork needed to seek a National Register listing for the townsite and cemetery, said Burns who initially wanted the cem- etery to remain under Forest Service control until it could be listed. Even still, he's said he's pleased the cemetery is un- der the county's control, as this will allow for its use by town residents. "It's been a long time in the making," Burns said. Shown too has waited for a resolution to the cem- etery's status. She too has a plot at the cemetery, next to that of her parents, where her ashes will be interred. Shown worked part-time jobs as a bartender and bookkeeper among oth- ers after she moved there. Building a house there in 1981 made the town her home. Being a resident of Lincoln has allowed her to volunteer over the years to assist various groups such as the rodeo club, snowmobile club, VFW and the commu- nity hall that will mark its 100th year in 2018. For her, the attraction of this town set amid the forest and far from urban areas is its way of life. "I find that I love the qui- etness of Lincoln," she said. "I'm not a big-city girl. 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