A few things
that deserve comment

Published 9:03 pm Sunday, May 17, 2009

By Staff
A recent case at the Beaufort County Courthouse brought to our attention the fact that American Indian remains recovered in the state are subject to different standards than those of every other type of person. The standard for American Indians gets it right and ought to be extended, as culturally appropriate, to all remains in the state.
American Indian remains are disposed of in consultation with “an appropriate tribal group or community,” according to state law.
Other remains are subject to the next of kin’s wishes, unless there is no next of kin. If no one steps forward (which is likely for old or unmarked graves), the remains are “permanently curated according to standard museum procedures.” That means “put in a box in Raleigh.”
The vast majority of non-American Indian remains recovered in North Carolina come from people whose cultures held the body was a corporeal vessel for the soul. For these people, mortal remains are of secondary importance, but we still think respectful disposal of remains is an important cultural gesture. And we don’t think a box on a shelf in Raleigh counts as respectful.
Study the remains, fine. But after they’ve been examined, rebury them. If we need samples for testing later, keep a small sample, and rebury the rest.
The reburials don’t have to be elaborate. A simple grave, simply marked would be all that’s necessary. The cost, which should be kept minimal, could be paid by whatever landowner is disturbing the grave in the first place. Usually graves are disturbed for development, so we think this is a fair burden to impose.
Monday night the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners heard about the N.C. Department of Transportation’s plan for improving secondary roads.
Basically, the department is doing as much work as it can on the cheap and trying to build up a backlog of paving to let out at once. We’re glad they’re doing what they can and that they’re looking at improving Harvey Road, which is very busy.
A recent Daily News question-and-answer feature mentioned that Gary Tomasulo is planning to open a new pizzeria downtown. We heartily enjoy our existing pizza joints, but we’re excited about Tomasulo’s. It will be nice to have a downtown pizza place accessible by foot — at least for those of us on Market Street.
We also saw the county’s water districts’ recommended budgets for next year for the first time Monday night. County Manager Paul Spruill is recommending only one rate increase.
District VI, which is mostly unincorporated areas near Chocowinity, would see an 8 percent increase and would still have a middle-of-the-road rate (relative to other county water rates).
We know water districts are under a heavy financial strain because of the debt they incurred to bring central water to rural places, and we applaud the county for not pushing for more increases during tough economic times.