Proposed Reservoir Would Relocate Graves - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Proposed Reservoir Would Relocate Graves

Some people living near Franklinton, Washington Parish are calling it grave desecration. State and local leaders want to use your tax money to build a reservoir in the area to provide drinking water and jobs. But if the plan goes through, several cemeteries and homes could be literally wiped off the map.

Walking through the Oak Grove cemetery, 84-year-old Jessie Sheridan and her son, Sam, are close to family. Sheridan's parents and husband are buried there, and one day, Jessie will be too. That is if the cemetery is still there when she dies. It may not be, because a proposed reservoir could bury the graveyard underwater.

"How can we come here and see all this underwater? How could we take that? There would be people who have heart attacks," says Sheridan.

The proposal calls for building a more than 3,000 acre reservoir in the Oak Grove area between LA-439 and LA-1072. The projected 30 million dollar reservoir would dam the Bogalusa Creek. The Sheridans say the when the water backs up, Rester Cemetery, with its confederate soldier grave, would simply disappear.

"I can't see people water skiing in a 100 feet of water over this cemetery. I can't explain it," says Sam Sheridan.

Up to eight houses and nine mobile homes could also be lost. Nevels Pittman's house is one of them. He says, "It's something that don't need to be done here."

State Senator Ben Nevers supports the proposed project. Nevers says a reservoir will provide recreation, drinking water, water for industry, business and irrigation, and economic development. Most importantly, he says, it will be a boost for Washington Parish.

"When you look at a business moving to Louisiana, the first thing they look at is your school system as well as the environment their employees will be living in," says Nevers. "So I think it will be conducive to economic development in that part of the state."

But with signs reading "no reservoir" lining the proposed site, people like the Sheridans hope to keep honoring the dead by letting the cemetery live.

"The bible says let the dead rest," says Jessie Sheridan. "Well, that's why we put them there."

And the Sheridans vow not to rest, so their love ones can continue to rest in peace.

Senator Nevers says the proposed project will take 10 years to complete. Various engineering studies still need to be completed before permits are issued for the project. Nevers says all graves would be moved and all homeowners losing their houses would be paid for their property.

Reporter: Matt Clough

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