Donation paves way to cemetery improvements

Funds from the Lamar estate are being eyed for a variety of work at Mountain View Cemetery.

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WALLA WALLA -- A nearly $1 million donation to Mountain View Cemetery has city officials embracing a number of cemetery improvement plans.

The effort is to be paid with the first $250,000 payment from the Lamar estate, with the exception of one plan to spruce up and straighten out some 600 headstones in the World War I Veterans section.

"I am not sure you are not going to run into trouble just running bulldozers over the remains," Mayor Jim Barrow said as the City Council on Monday reviewed the project that would use $100,000 from the Lamar estate fund as seed money to realign the headstones.

"It looks like an old cemetery. It is an old cemetery. I think to mess with it would be wrong," he said.

Cemetery officials said they had received a number of complaints over the crooked rows and lack of uniformity, and that the repair work could involve completely replacing a number of headstones.

Other projects reviewed Monday included adding cremation niches to cover the needs for the next 15 years, $150,000; fixing iron fencing and gates, $6,000; repairing Abbey Mausoleum, $14,700; repairing the columbarium roof and windows, $31,000; installing a new lighted flagpole, $5,000; replacing all underground irrigation, $250,000; repairing cemetery roads, $200,000; pruning and other tree maintenance, $30,000; building concrete bunkers for dirt storage, $6,000; energy-saving upgrades to the cemetery offices, $2,500; and installing a new fence on the south property line off Prospect Avenue, $35,000.

City officials were expecting as much as $800,000 from the Lamar estate, but the property near Touchet recently sold for $2.2 million, which was 51 percent higher than expected.

The Lamar brothers established a settlement in the Touchet River Valley in their name 10 miles outside of Prescott in the mid-1800s, according to Washington Heritage Registry documents.

All that remains of the settlement of Lamar is a hand-hewn cottonwood tree cabin built in 1863.

City officials also expressed interest in establishing and dedicating a garden or other facility at the cemetery to the Lamar family.

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