Infant remains found on new community center property

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Chad Darnall
Web Editor - Mason Stevenson
Reporter - Robert Bradfield
Photojournalist - Randall Barnes

UPDATE (5:30 p.m.) - Workers at a construction site in Benton, Kentucky found a box containing human remains Wednesday.

Local 6 reported Tuesday the site used to be a family cemetery.  That's according to government documents.

Wednesday morning, while clearing the land for a parking lot, workers came across the box.  It was later released by the Marshall County coroner the box contained infant remains.

Coroner Mitchell Lee says it is now up to the city to determine what will happen with the remains.  Construction on the project has been temporarily suspended.

The parking lot sits next to the new Marshall County Childrens Art Center.

Earlier story:

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky. - A Community Arts Center for Children is just months away from completion but last week, part of the project had to stop.

That's because crews learned a more than 130-year-old family cemetery could be on the premises.

Tuesday, crews were 'back at it' at the Marshall County Children's Arts Center.

The Benton City Attorney says there are only two records of a family cemetery on the corner of 12Th and Elm.  There could be as many as five people buried there between years 1855 and 1880.  If found, those remains must be removed.

The people planning the project thought they were prepared for almost anything, but even hundreds of blueprint pages can't help you plan for something like this.

"The cemetery is our history. Those were somebody's great grandfathers and grandmothers and family members," Marshall County Cemetery Board Member Gary Teckenbrock said.

He was surprised when a citizen approached construction workers about the potential graves.

"You think about all the buildings that have been built and ditches dug, uh my opinion is it's been scattered for several years," Teckenbrock said.

Archives indicate the property once belonged to the Brandon Family.

Two couples, and three infants were buried in the back yard cemetery.

Mayor Steve Cary doubts crews will dig up anything.

"I've lived here since 1950 and I've never seen grave sites here," Cary said.

He said if they do, construction will cease again, and those left here will be respectfully removed.

Records indicate while seven people were originally buried there, some were later moved to the Thompson Cemetery in the early 1900s.

Local 6 attempted to find someone related to those buried on the property and was unsuccessful. So far the city has been unsuccessful, too.

Since family members are hard to find, what happens if crews do dig up remains?

The attorney says the city is legally required to make every effort to contact family members by putting notices in the local newspaper.

If no one comes forward, the city will have to pay to move the remains to another cemetery.

The Marshall County Community Children's Art Center is set to officially open within a few months.

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