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Wake School System Moves Graveyard to Build New School

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RALEIGH — Some people say it is the price you pay for progress. Others say it is a break with the past that should never happen. As the Triangle grows, old family cemeteries must be moved to accommodate for the growth.

The grave sites in a Wake County cemetery off West Lake Road have been there for more than 100 years. However, they are about to get moved out so a new school can move in.

TheWake County School Systemsays it is the best location for the elementary school, so they are going to take the graveyard and move it to the other side of the tree line.

The state sets specific guidelines for how and when cemeteries can be moved.

"We've worked with the family, we have written permission from them, and they're fine with doing it in a private and dignified manner," says school spokeswoman Kristin Wood.

"We are seeing some now, we'll continue to see others as we develop more into the rural areas of Wake County," says Michael Jennings, Wake County's planning director.

"There are many families who are very disturbed about what's happening," says historian Irene Kittenger, who wishes Wake County would do more to preserve cemeteries.

"It breaks the hearts of those of us who do this thing or are interested in this sort of thing because we know how much it means that so many have been destroyed," Kittenger said.

Many have also been saved. The graves next to a Cary construction project will stay, and a cemetery is located in the middle of RDU International. Both are examples of where the past and the present peacefully co-exist.

When a cemetery is moved, it must be approved by county commissioners after a public hearing so it is always part of the public record. Planners say about five percent of the subdivisions in Wake County contain or used to contain cemeteries.


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