It has been a long time coming, but the electronic directory kiosk at Great Bend Cemetery is up and running. It was officially christened in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon.
“With over 15,000 interments, there would be no way we could have a paper directory,” Cemetery Board President Justin Engleman told those gathered. “It would have been 300 feet long.”
The phone booth-sized structure was built near the Broadway cemetery’s main entrance and has been up and running since July. But, it houses burial plot information for both the Broadway and 24th Street locations.
“When I drive up and down Broadway, I see a lot of people using it,” Engleman said. This is a sign that it was much needed.
With that many burial sites, it can be difficult to find an individual grave. City personnel are asked on a regular basis where grave sites are located.
Produced and installed by Indianola, Neb.,-based Windy Prairie Systems, it includes a touch-screen monitor. There is also the option to include photos of the grave sites, short videos, obituaries and other information, and there is be a link on the city’s website for off-site access.
After a name is typed in, a map will appear. It will then zoom in to the section and the grave site.
The kiosk will be operational from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. After that, it shuts and locks down automatically.
It was not cheap, costing $46,800. But, the money came from the cemetery’s perpetual funds account, which is made up of a portion of the fee charged for each grave site.
“This is a very wise use of perpetual fund money,” Mayor Mike Allison said. Allison and Engleman joined representatives of the Great Bend Cemetery Board, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce, the City of Great Bend and others to take part in a ribbon cutting.
Eventually, the Great Bend directory will sync with the city website to automatically update any changes.
Windy Prairie Systems has similar kiosks in 13 states.
The idea, presented by Engleman, was narrowly approved by the City Council last November.
However, there was opposition to the idea when it was first proposed and it took a tie-breaking vote from Allison to pass the measure. Opponents asked why not just put the information on the web and place a sign stating this at the cemetery and offer free wireless internet?
This would be cheaper, some on the council said. A few years ago, the city purchased software and planned on posting all the burial locations on line, but that never came to fruition.
There was also concern about vandalism. Although the screen would be protected, there were exposed areas that would be subject to damage.
Before action could be taken on the motion to approve the kiosk, another motion to table the matter to a later meeting was offered.
This led to a 4-4 split, and Allison stepped in and voted against delaying the issue.
Then the vote was called for on the original motion. This also led to a 4-4 split.
At this point, Allison voted in favor of the kiosk.