Flaggs wants Beulah fence, gate approved

Published 6:28 pm Monday, August 7, 2017

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said he is ready to accept a $61,000 bid to build a new main entrance for Beulah Cemetery on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard even though it is more than $16,000 over the project’s budget.

The city wants to build brick and stone columns with a gate at the cemetery entrance, and install an iron fence across its front. The gate will front an extension of MLK, which intersects with the street. Beulah Cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is one of two African American cemeteries in the city. The other is the Tate Family Cemetery at South Frontage Road and Cypress Center Drive.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday took under advisement four bids for the project. All were over the $45,000 set aside for the work.

Hemphill Construction Co. of Florence was the lowest with a bid of $61,478. Other bidders were Phoenix Construction of Carthage, $68,680; Colmar Construction of Greenboro, N.C., $98,740; and Abg Contractors of Jackson, $81,712.

Flaggs said he is going to recommend the board accept Hemphill’s bid when the board meets Thursday.

“I’m ready to go with them,” he said. “The $45,000 is coming from my discretionary fund. I don’t think it will be ready by October, but we have enough money to get the project started. We’ll find the rest of the money.”

The arch is one of several improvements planned for the cemetery that Flaggs outlined shortly after taking office for his first term in 2013.

The cemetery is adjacent to the Vicksburg National Military Park, and he said issues involving the cemetery’s property lines have been resolved.

Beulah Cemetery was established in 1884 by the Vicksburg Tabernacle No. 19 Independent Order of Brothers and Sisters of Love and Charity, who bought the land from Harvey and Lucy Shannon for $1,000. The cemetery eventually became the main cemetery for Vicksburg-area African Americans.

It originally included 52 acres, but property sales and transfers to the National Park Service and individuals, reduced the property to 14.5 acres. 

The cemetery is managed and maintained by the Beulah Cemetery Restoration Committee.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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