In 2007, Allen Wellons and Leo Daughtry of Smithfield invested over $800,000 in the cemetery extension under the assumption they would be slowly reimbursed from the sale of cemetery plots. They entered into the agreement as a public benefactor project with the only desire to be reimbursed for their original costs.
Wellons and Daughtry purchased the property in 2006, when the Johnston County School Board moved their school bus garage from the site. The old warehouses were removed, the lot cleared, and a stone fence was constructed to be consistent with the existing Riverside Cemetery on Front Street.
However, plots in the cemetery have not sold as quickly as originally anticipated and the two businessmen have not recouped their original investment. And the investors are still due more than $600,000 from their original agreement with the Town.
Following a closed session Monday night, the Smithfield Town Council emerged and voted unanimously to extend the agreement an additional 10 years until all the original investment is recouped or until all the lots are sold, whichever comes first.
The Town of Smithfield sells the lots and manages the cemetery. One reason the lots may not be selling as quickly is the cost.
Spaces at Sunset Cemetery are $1,000 each. Over half of the 9300 grave spaces at Sunset have been sold. At Riverside Extension, the cost is $1,250 each and only 16% of the spaces have been sold.