Burr Oak to reopen, sets up database

November 19, 2009 4:33:02 AM PST
Four months after the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal first surfaced, the facility will reopen Thursday.The cemetery was closed after four workers were charged with re-selling grave sites at the cemetery.

On Thursday, some families will be allowed into the cemetery.

The Burr Oak Cemetery scandal is still fresh in many family members' minds. Many were unable to find or locate their loved ones in the cemetery in July. Now, those in charge of the cemetery believe that they have worked out all of those problems.

On Wednesday, cemetery officials took members of the media to show off the improvements that they have made to Burr Oak Cemetery. They brought people in by bus which is how the general public will be allowed into the grounds for the next week or so. With a limited staff, they say they're trying to keep the reopening under control. No cars or walk-ins will be allowed to enter.

Families will have to board a bus at the Burr Oak transportation center located at 12250 South Cicero Avenue. But before the public comes to the cemetery, officials urge them to visit their Web site fo find a burial location. After plugging in a name, an exact location should pop up in the database. A map can then be printed. That map will serve as a ticket to enter the cemetery.

"So you can all the wooden stakes. You can see the sections. You can see the paved roads that we worked on. Hopefully there's not large amounts of standing water which was a major complaint. Trees have been removed that could have been dangerous to the families. Those are all improvements to the cemetery at this point," said Roman Szabelski, cemetery consultant.

"I think the great thing about it now is that you find signs in place that are readable, that are markers. You find all the stakes. There are almost 2,000 stakes out here where people couldn't find their way. It makes it a lot easier for them to find the location of their loved ones," said Rev. Steve Jones, Baptist Pastors Conference of Chicago.

Burr Oak Cemetery is not reopening to everyone on Thursday, only to those who have loved ones buried in certain sections. Other sections of the 105 acre facility will be opening up on other days over the course of the next week. And then the cemetery will reopen to the general public after Thanksgiving.

Officials are urging people who already know the exact locations of their family members to try to stay away for a while over the next week to let those who still have some uncertainty or don't know where their family members are buried to have the next week to do the research online.


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