The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Council member adds to Pioneer Cemetery story


April 30, 2020

To The Eagle:

Many thanks to The Eagle for covering the Pioneer Cemetery and the unanimous decision of the Town Council (April 20) to move forward with a "Stage 1" qualifying grant request from the Washington State Historical Society to preserve and improve Cathlamet's historic cemetery.

I want to clarify that this is only the beginning of a lengthy process. The first step was submittal of the qualifying grant request (April 23). Upon approval by WSHS, the second deadline is June 25 when a fully-documented grant request must be submitted, with contractor estimates and evidence of community support.

We will also be asking for support from our legislative delegation, as even if fully approved by WSHS the grant will be dependent on funding from the legislature and approval by the governor in the 2021-2023 biennial budget.

I should clarify that total project cost is $45,000 and the state reimburses only 1/3 of this amount ($15,000). The town is required to commit 2/3 (or $30,000) but if we can match at least half this amount, the net commitment of town funds would be $15,000 (next year's budget). The process allows us to match 100 percent of the local contribution if we can (including with volunteer labor and donated materials) so support from the community and business will be very necessary to succeed. Project completion should be 2023 at the latest if we clear all the hoops.

I cannot say enough about the support and assistance we have already received. Not only was the town council unanimous, but Cemetery District #1 (Stephanie Olsen, Secretary) did everything (and promptly) to enable the town to file the initial grant request. We also received documentation, advice and support from Kari Kandoll (Wahkiakum County Historical Society), David Hansen (owner of the historic Julia Butler Hansen home) and Irene Martin ("Historian Laureate" of Wahkiakum County).

Moving this project forward will continue to be a community effort. We count on everyone who values Cathlamet's unique history as one of the earliest settlements in Washington State, home to settlers and Chinookan tribal leaders represented in the Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery is showing its age and needs our help to be preserved for the future. Now is the time for all of us to step forward in support of this worthy effort.

David Olson, Member

Cathlamet Town Council


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