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Dare County Airport Authority ponders moving gravesites

Near the terminal building at the Dare County Regional Airport is a grassy area surrounded by a small white picket fence. Within the fenced area is the final resting place of at least eight individuals. Marked by headstones, some illegible, laid flat on the gravesites. At least one of the grave markers dates back to the Civil War era and bears a C.S.A. (Confederate States of America) recognition. Others bear the names of Wescott, a familiar Outer Banks name.

With a paving project about to begin nearby and thoughts of future projects being discussed, DCAA members are considering that the graves be disinterred and relocated. This isn’t the first time DCAA has pondered relocating the graves.

With the possible request for grave relocation being discussed, DCAA attorney Robert Hobbs presented an outline of strict state requirements and guidelines that must be followed before the disinterment would be allowed. A first step would be certification to Dare County commissioners that the disinterment is needed for operational and safety reasons at the airport.

If allowed, DCAA would then need to attempt to identify and contact descendants of the deceased and advertise DCAA’s intentions to relocate the graves. The disinterment would need to be conducted by a licensed funeral director under the supervision of Dare County commissioners and officials such as the health director.

A site for re-interment would be provided, possibly the Roanoke Island Memorial Gardens that is owned and operated by the Dare County Airport Authority. The re-interment would be conducted in a proper and decent manner. The cost of the relocation would be borne by DCAA.

A committee working with the attorney will make recommendations on how and if to proceed with the grave relocations, perhaps as early as this month.

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