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Does Pickens need a Cemetery Preservation Commission?

Damon Howell / Photo

Greg Trammell wants the county to establish a volunteer commission that would create a log of all cemeteries and maintain abandoned gravesites. 


Just a few days ago, on March 20th, the University of Georgia reinterred the remains of over 100 bodies found unexpectedly during the multi-million-dollar expansion of an academic building on campus. 

The skeletal remains were discovered by construction workers back in November of 2015. Archaeologists determined the graves to be part of the Old Athens Cemetery, which operated as a public cemetery throughout the 19th century. The construction site was on an older portion of the cemetery where slaves were buried.

The Baldwin Hall expansion was set back for months, with the exhumation of remains continuing in some sections through January of this year. Unearthing the cemetery also brought on additional costs to bring in archaeologists, to perform DNA studies, and do other work associated with identifying and reinterring the bodies. 

Pickens resident Greg Trammell is concerned the same thing could happen here, and that abandoned cemeteries could be lost and forgotten as people who know about them pass away. Trammell, who has submitted a proposal to the county to create a Cemetery Preservation Commission through their code of ordinances, said without a governing body to oversee cemeteries here there could be issues down the road – but some leaders are concerned the project could end up in the county’s lap and cost taxpayers money in the long run.  

“I don’t want to see what happened at UGA happen in this county,” said Trammell. “We don’t have the money. We need to bring codes in now so we don’t have to deal with this in the middle of a project if we can help it.”

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