Volunteers helping cemetery shape up

Morning Journal/Stephani Ujhelyi A woman mows in an area near the Columbiana County Memorial Park mausoleum Thursday afternoon.

CALCUTTA — With the help of the volunteers in the community, Columbiana County Memorial Park is looking less a jungle or more like a haven.

On Thursday afternoon, as people were visiting the graves of their loved ones, others were cleaning up the mess that days of rain and months of understaffing had made through the 50-acre facility.

One anonymous woman near the mausoleum positioned near the cemetery’s park neatly mowed the yard on her own garden tractor.

“Both my husband and I are helping, because we have loved ones here and it is the right thing to do,” she explained.

It has been one week since word (complete with pictures) spread on Facebook about the CCMP site and the purported unwillingness of park board management to discuss it.

This woman explained with the amount of ground to cover it is almost impossible to it with only two people, especially when the board is holding the purse strings. “The workers have no control and do what they are told. It does look a lot better than before,” she said.

A brush hog came over the other night and now volunteers with tractors, weedwhackers and just plain brute force are now tidying up.

“The problem is beyond words,” she noted, adding. “You cannot just mow and go. Sometimes I have to get off the tractor to clean off some headstones. I will clean off the best I can.”

She plans to return before Memorial Day just like people like Keith and Helen Maple, who stopped by to tidy up their family’s final resting place.

As Helen bags the grass that he discards, Keith just is in amazement with the breadth involved in just caring for his mom and dad’s graves. With recent rain, he explains that he has cut his son’s yard three times in just a week or so. While conquering the two grave spaces, he cannot imagine the work those two employees encounter doing it for everyone’s sites

Keith Maple is frustrated when he sees the heaped up gravesite covered with mounded grass six months after they buried her there; however, he does acknowledge that it is important to make sure the dead continue to be properly honored. He intends to return here with the American Legion to put flags on veteran graves positioned over a nearby hill and make sure they are properly remembered.

They speculate that they can see how overwhelming the responsibility can be.

A passerby happens on the couple as they clean up and inquires, “What happened up here?”

Like the two couples, Denny Fetty spent Thursday volunteering at the park. “I mowed today and picked up trash,” he said, explaining why he decided to get involved. “Both my parents are up here. The park asked for help and I had free time . I thought they might appreciate it.

Fetty was off the rest of the week from his day job as an operator at Heritage Thermal Services and was impressed with how much had been accomplished in a few short days. “It looks manageable now. Most areas have been hit with the brushhog, and one of the park’s former employees returned to cut by the cross. I’ve seen a lot of need repairs to gravesites, and I’m hoping if we help with the maintenance stuff, then employees can concentrate on some of that damage,” he said.