Members of the Walnut Grove Cemetery Association selected a completely new group of six board members at the Newport Municipal Building Tuesday night.

Members of the Walnut Grove Cemetery Association selected a completely new group of six board members at the Newport Municipal Building Tuesday night.
Wayne Beard, Carol Brand, John Conner, Jr., Lauren McDonald, Johnnie Powers and John Purdy were chosen by a vote of association members.  Seven names were submitted by nominations from the floor to the slate of candidates.
Purdy, who spoke for the newly elected board, stressed the importance of properly maintaining the cemetery.
    “That is the history of Newport and Jackson County, and we need to make it a special place,” Purdy said.
    Former cemetery board members Zach Curtner and Michael Allen Jr. were both suggested as nominees, but each of them declined.  According to Curtner, this was one of nearly half a dozen meetings by the board this year, and a drastic increase from the previous one. 
    “In the year 2009, Walnut Grove Cemetery convened five times,” Curtner said.  “That happens to be an increase of 500 percent over the year 2008.”
    According to Curtner, his, Allen’s and Edward Boyce’s resignations would become effective at the conclusion of the meeting.  Boyce was not present at the meeting.
    Curtner, the outgoing president of the board, also informed the assembly the former caretaker, who resigned a week earlier, is still assisting with the day-to-day operations of the cemetery.
    “Eddie Cooley is working on a voluntary basis, and he has not let anything lapse,” Curtner said.  “He has been working hand-in-hand with the funeral people here in town, and he will continue to do that until there is a replacement.”
    Phil McDonald, a member of the Friends of Walnut Grove Cemetery and an association member, praised Boyce for his efforts in supplying financial documents to the group.
    “Not everything that we requested was there, but the records that were turned in were very well done,” McDonald said.  “Obviously, he spent some time getting them done.”
    McDonald also declined nomination and feels he will play an important role in fundraising for the graveyard.
    “We think it is very important that the Friends of Walnut Grove will continue, and we want to be a strong advocacy group for the cemetery,” McDonald said.
    The newly elected board will hold their first full meeting on Friday at the office of Miller-Newell Engineers, Inc. located at 510 Third Street.