When Black River Technical College’s welding program heard that the St. Paul African Methodist Episcopal Cemetery in Bookman, Arkansas, had been vandalized they wanted to do what they could to help.
“When we heard that their sign was stolen we felt really bad and knew that building a new sign was something we could do to help,” said Matthew Mattox. The students, along with their instructor Ricky Gunn, worked to cut out a new sign with their Plasma Cam. Then both Mattox and Matthew Edington worked to build a frame for the sign.
Bookman is a small African-American community which was settled by blacks who worked at the sawmill in Sheridan but were not allowed to live in town. The cemetery is located in the middle of timber/paper company land off Highway 190, south of Sheridan. Some of the headstones date as early as 1863.
Members of the local hunting club noticed the lack of a typical steel sign marking the cemetery and approached a staff member of BRTC to see if one could be made for the cemetery. “We were happy to donate some of our time and labor to make sure the cemetery had a sign like it deserved. It was a good experience for some of the students since these are the kinds of things they may end up building on the job,” explained Gunn.
To learn more about BRTC’s welding program call (870) 248-4000 or visit the website at blackrivertech.edu.