Group to hear position paper on Confederate flags in historic cemeteries, talk about fire response

For cemeteries that were impacted by wildfires, the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries issues the following caution: Only cemetery authorities should access the cemetery, and they should wait for permission from local emergency agencies.

SALEM

The Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries will meet by conference call at 1 p.m. on Oct. 23. Its agenda includes fire response, a position paper on the Confederate flags in historic cemeteries, and a fire response update. The meeting is open to the public and the agenda includes how to access the teleconference and the opportunity for public comment.

As crews are gaining more control over Oregon’s recent wildfires, people are beginning to access the burned areas. The commission urges caution when accessing cemeteries impacted by fire.

• Only cemetery authorities should access the cemetery, and they should wait for permission from local emergency agencies. Follow any professional guidance on appropriate protective wear.

• Cemeteries should post signs and attempt to limit access as much as possible until safety assessments are complete.

• When allowed, the cemeteries should assess safety:

Ground is disturbed by burned roots, shifting rocks, use a stick to test the stability of primary walking paths. And be aware monuments and other features may be less stable;

Monuments, including stone, mortar and epoxies, will be altered depending on the heat and duration of the fire. These can be permanent changes. Stones will be more fragile and must be treated with care. Again, warnings of instability are important to convey. Also, people will want to clean monuments, post notices requesting they ask permission and receive training before doing any cleaning. Damaged memorials will be more susceptible to damage from abrasive and chemical treatment; and

Look for dangerous trees and other overhead debris and address them before you allow public access. Seek professional advice to preserve historic trees and plantings.

Volunteers needed

The commission is also currently seeking to fill two positions, one from the coast and one from central Oregon. The commissioners serve four years and support the work of people preserving Oregon’s historic cemeteries.

State law established the seven-member Commission to maintain a listing of all historic cemeteries and gravesites in Oregon; promote public education on the significance of historic cemeteries; and help obtain financial and technical assistance for restoring, improving and maintaining their appearances. For more information about commission activities, contact coordinator Kuri Gill at (503) 986-0685 or by e-mail at kuri.gill@oregon.gov. Special accommodations for the meeting — including translation services — may be made by calling (503) 986?0690 at least 72 hours prior to the start of the meeting.

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