Proposed crematorium next to elementary school has some parents concerned

RUSSELLVILLE (KATV) - Plans for a crematorium next to Center Valley Elementary school have some parents upset, saying they don't want their children exposed to death on a daily basis.{} The man planning the project says it's for the community and said they're going about it in a tactful manner.

Many parents picking up their children from Center Valley Elementary on Thursday were talking about the proposed crematorium.{} Brandy Caudle, parent of three children at Center Valley, said she doesn't want it there. {}

"Those children play less than a block away from that," said Caudle.{} "I mean not even a block."

"It is completely understandable for me that parents are concerned about their children and what they'll be exposed to," said Jim Bob Humphrey, president of Humphrey Funeral Service, the funeral home planning on building the crematorium.

Parent concerns, along with his own personal convictions, is why Humphrey said he has put extreme efforts into making the proposed cemetery/crematorium into a "one-of-a-kind" place, complete with a park, pond, natural tree boundaries and top of the line cremation equipment.

According to cemetery renderings, the crematorium will actually be built over 500 feet from the school, but that doesn't put Caudle at ease.

"They're going to ask questions about what's going on over there," said Caudle.{} "How many people are going to have the responsibility and the right answer for them?"

But Humphrey says death is a natural part of life, something children were exposed to years ago in everyday life.

"Children were exposed to death; it was a part of their culture," said Humphrey.{} "They saw birth at home and they saw death at home."

Humphrey says shielding children and not exposing them to death now is only a disservice to children.

Caudle says her first, third and fourth graders all know about death - she just doesn't feel that they need to go to school right next to it.

"That would be an everyday occurrence for them," said Caudle.

Humphrey says that is why he's looking forward to talking with parents and having an in-depth conversation about the proposed memorial park.

"I believe that when people see what it is that we are going to do, they will be very, very impressed," said Humphrey.

Parents will have an opportunity to meet with Humphrey at a school meeting, Thursday, March 6, at 6:30 PM at Center Valley Elementary School.{}

The planned cemetery/crematorium still needs to have two public hearings - one by the Arkansas Cemetery Board and the other by the Arkansas State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors.{} Each meeting is required to give the public three weeks notice before each meeting.