Company to use sonar to try and establish cemetery boundary

Huron County construction project halted after bones unearthed during work.
Scott Seitz2
Aug 23, 2014


Construction at the future home of the license bureau/title office continues to be delayed after human remains were unearthed at the site Aug. 8.

Workers were excavating at the Shady Lane Drive job site that day when femur and rib bones, along with a skull were discovered.

Huron County Sheriff Dane Howard responded to the scene and sectioned off the area, sending workers home.

County officials have been considering options since the discovery.

The new license bureau/title office is a $1.1 million project.

Officials had originally hoped to have the facility open by November, but with recent delays due to the weather and the discovery of bones, a new opening date has not been established.

Local historian Henry Timman has said that area was used as a cemetery from 1848 to 1917.

County officials said they had attempted to place the new facility far enough away from what they thought could potentially be a burial ground, but the discovery of bones has left the actual cemetery boundary lines in question.

Local architect Dan Frederick is overseeing the project. He updated the county commissioners via email recently.

"The architect said he has a company coming in, and this is technology we never knew existed, that can use sonar in the ground to figure out the true boundaries of the cemetery," Dunlap said. "I believe they'll be doing that in the next couple days."

Dunlap was asked what the cost would be for this sonar procedure.

"My attitude is, that's the architect's problem," he said. "He's the professional. I mean no disrespect and I like Dan, but that's his job."

Dunlap said work will remain delayed at the site until at least the commissioners receive the results of the sonar.

"Maybe this will help us get some of these issues cleaned up," he said.


norwalk rejector's picture
norwalk rejector

So here it begins trying to push the problem onto someone else instead of the real decision makers admitting their mistake. Just how is it the architect's problem? Bring in all the ground penetrating radar you want (unless the sonar unit is an all together different kind of device), but I guarantee you're still going to be digging up bones. Those units are not super accurate at all. Here is what the technician is going to be repeatedly saying, "we're getting a reading that shows some sort of anomaly but we can't be sure till we dig it up".

Dunlap can say it's the architect's problem, but the county will end up paying the bill. Also is email really the best way to be discussing the situation? I mean for a million dollar project it wouldn't hurt to at least pick up the phone. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the architect has to find out it's his problem by reading it in the newspaper.

Abandon the current site instead of trying to force it to work. There has to be other options available that stay within the budget. It was foolish to think they could build so close to the cemetery. Let those poor people out there rest in peace.


Move it the landfill property, centrally located in the county plus you know whats there. Win Win!


A good architect would do many things to make sure the project will go as planned. And that includes surveys and records search to see what is there, or in this case what was there. Now the true trick is will the County Commission stand up and stand their ground and refuse the Extra costs for this "issue" that should have been thought of "Before" the first shovel hit the ground.


It wouldn't have made a difference who the architect was. This is a case with no searchable records. Not even Mr. Timman could tell with 100% certainty, and he's the real expert about what's out there. Of course the architect should have known what might happen when he accepted the job, so that does push the responsibility back onto him. It would be the same as the commissioners telling him they want to build on the moon. Don't take the job unless you're willing to guarantee it can be done.


I would think the easiest, safest, and most respectful option would be to just find a different location. Set up a fence, some kind of boundary. Erect a sign stating the history and name of the cemetery. There are so many tracing and location family genealogy these days. Let them rest in peace.


What's the deal with all the other land along Shady Lane? Doesn't the county own anything else they could build on, or is it all privately owned? I just don't understand why they picked that particular spot.


This story is very telling. The "project manager" didn't know this technology existed. That is because he has never handled a building project before. This has been total amateur hour, top to bottom. Why wasn't Janotta & Herner hired for the job? Keeps the money local, no need for an architect buddy to be hired as they have all that on staff there. It would have been done right and.not built there, as a professional would have known better.

Next shoe to drop will be when the construction company files a lawsuit.

Bottom line, if this is indeed built, it MUST be built elsewhere. Save the expense of the sonar that has been around for 40 years, for the legal expenses that are coming.


If J&H would have built it the building would be falling apart in about 5 years. I work out of 3 buildings that they built and we can't get them to come back and fix their mistakes.


I think the architect and commissioners rolled the dice knowing it would be taxpayers picking up the tab if they lost. The whole project seems like overkill anyway.


I quit using sonar due to its unreliability. Waste of money.


Bellevue moved many graves so they could build the Rec Center where it is, still seems disrespectful, but what could you do, I don't know, find another location seems right to me.


henry timmens county historian tried to warn them of this.. sometimes, you just cant fix stupid.. im wondering why not use the new, empty grocery story building across from rite aid.. centrally located, up to code building, and a huge parking lot..

Long Duck Dong's picture
Long Duck Dong

Sorry but the idea would never work since it's a good one that makes sense.


Here is a thought, leave the site alone and find a new spot.

shovelhead's picture

Dunlop must be ill if he thinks Fredrick has responsibility here. They gave him the lot to draw the plans on. Fredrick will not be responsible for anything not found in County records. This simply tells everyone how dumb this guy is. That is the dumbest response I have ever heard in construction. And yes, we will end up paying for all of this BS. Bail out now, Dunlop. Sonar...what a joke.