Workers from Walters Monument Company of Summit Hill and Hazleton Memorial of Hazleton braved the crisp cold Summit Hill morning to deliver the first columbarium in the Panther Valley and install it in the Grand Army Cemetery in Summit Hill, completing a project begun several months ago by the volunteer board of the public cemetery.

"We have been waiting for this delivery for quite a while," said Board President David Wargo, "so I'm very pleased to finally have it installed in the cemetery today." The columbarium has spaces for 20 urns and offers a lower cost alternative to traditional burials.

"We want to be able to offer this new service as a more economical alternative to traditional burials. We are especially proud to be the first in the Panther Valley area to offer this choice." While the local Panther Valley area has no other ones, Skyview Memorial Park in Hometown does have a columbarium and so does a cemetery in Palmerton.

Wargo said this alternative could be a few thousand dollars cheaper to traditional burials in the cemetery due to savings of not having to buy a plot, excavation and marker costs. "I think cremations are becoming a more popular choice for burials due to their affordable prices. We want to assist in providing a respectful location for the cremains of loved ones."

The columbarium, which weighs 3,800 pounds, has five spaces in each of the four sides. Wargo said the cemetery plans to install four of them with the other three identical to the first. The footers were poured in October but an inability to get a crane with dimensions large enough to handle the six foot height and weight delayed the installation of the piece. "Two of the spaces have already been reserved and I have another couple looking at buying two more even before the structure was installed," he added. Board members expect the spaces to be reserved quickly and Wargo anticipates being able to install the second unit by the end of next year. The cemetery is aiming to complete the installation of the fourth unit by the end of 2016. When finished the area will be landscaped as a memory garden in that area of the cemetery.

The Grand Army Cemetery is a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization and is completely run by volunteers. For more information about the cemetery, one can contact Wargo at (570) 657-0792 or Craig Walters at (570) 645-3415