Exploring Almost Forgotten Gravesites in the Great State of Ohio

Dedicated to cemetery preservation in the great state of Ohio


"A cemetery may be considered as abandoned when all or practically all of the bodies have been Removed therefrom and no bodies have been buried therein for a great many years, and the cemetery has been so long neglected as entirely to lose its identity as such, and is no longer known, recognized and respected by the public as a cemetery. 1953 OAG 2978."

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy New Year & Reflecting on New Year's Resolutions Worth Keeping

Wishing everyone a safe, healthy, and happy 2017!  
And may all of your New Year's Resolutions be kept!  
~*~*~*~*~

If cleaning, repairing, or resetting your ancestor's gravestone in 2017 is among your New Year's resolutions in the coming year, please keep following the Do No Harm guidelines for conducting this type of work.  A perfect place to learn about these proper procedure and product guidelines is from the NCPTT -- The National Center for Technology and Training.  

~*~*~*~*~

With this thought in mind, I wish to take this opportunity to thank Mary Striegel of the NCPTT for reaching out through her blog posts, in particular, that detail and promote safe, do no harm practices, that serve to protect and preserve grave markers of all types across America.  

 ~*~*~*~*~

Through Mary's blog posts, like her most recent:  
"Preserving Grave Markers in Historic Cemeteries" -- that includes a Link to the 20 page PDF Brief # 48 Document itself is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about cemetery preservation and gravestone conservation whether they have engaged in this type of work or not.
  ~*~*~*~*~

**Mary Striegel**
"Dr. Mary Striegel is responsible for NCPTT’s Materials Conservation Program. Mary came to NCPTT in 1995 from the Getty Conservation Institute. 
Her past work has included studies of the effects of formaldehyde on inorganic materials, uses of thin-layer chromatography for the analysis of binding media, and applications of digital imaging and technical photography in the analysis of works of art. 
Mary earned her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis, where she pursued interdisciplinary research on residual stresses in numismatics."


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Editorial: Help identify cemetery vandals | The Columbus Dispatch


"Green Lawn Cemetery is counting on someone having a conscience — or at least, needing an easy $1,000."

"The cash reward is being offered for anyone who turns over information leading to the arrest of vandals who’ve crept into the historic cemetery after dark and caused more than $1.25 million in damage within the past two years. Why? For laughs? Out of boredom? If these losers are seeking attention, they’ve got it. But that notoriety is going to help them be caught and go to prison.

These vandals were “vindictive,” Green Lawn Cemetery Trustee Randy Rogers said. “They’ll pick up a tablet and smash it on top of another tablet.” They shattered obelisks and pushed statues from pedestals.

The damage is extensive and permanent. Historic items cannot be made as good as new ... or “old,” in this case. One victim of the vandals was a monument to Gustavus Swan, an Ohio Supreme Court justice who organized Ohio’s early banking system. He died in 1860, the year Abe Lincoln was elected president. The vandals demolished a life-size bust of Swan, an artwork that will cost tens of thousands of dollars to remake.

Rogers started a GoFundMe.com page about a month ago to ask the public for help with the restoration; as of early Friday, it had $475 in pledges toward a $100,000 goal.

A cemetery nearly 170 years old holds a lot of history. Those buried in Green Lawn include Samuel Bush, a forebear of two U.S. presidents; Ohio Gov. and U.S. Sen. John Bricker; World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker; and humorist James Thurber.

The oldest sections of the cemetery took the brunt of the damage. On Aug. 14, vandals damaged 109 monuments in one night. On Nov. 26, the most recent rampage, they pushed over 30 to 40 markers, causing up to $45,000 in damage.

Someone knows or suspects the identity of the goons who are desecrating gravesites. The nonprofit Green Lawn Cemetery Association has turned to Central Ohio Crime Stoppers and the public for help. Tipsters can remain anonymous by calling 614-461-8477, or going to stopcrime.org.


The crime is felony vandalism, but it also was an attack on Ohio’s cultural heritage. These despicable thugs deserve the full weight of the law."

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas! Sharing: "A Christmas Request Answered a Century Later"

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate this joyous holy day. 

~*~*~*~*~

Taking this opportunity to extend my appreciation to all of the readers of this blog who stop by and visit it throughout the year.  Thank You!
~*~*~*~
 Please keep your individual and group efforts going in 2017 to preserve and save Ohio's almost forgotten cemeteries with safe methods of documentation and Do No Harm gravestone conservation that properly preserves grave markers and their inscriptions.  
~*~*~*~*~


Sharing a heartwarming story that comes from the New York Times:  "A Christmas Request Answered a Century Later" written by Corey Killgannon which appeared online on December 20, 2016.  

We can pause a few moments today to learn about the life of Mary Elizabeth McGann McGahan by peering through the porthole of the past to read her childhood Christmas letter written to Santa Claus in 1907.  Mary's specific Christmas gift requests were for her brother and others -- for people whom she never met -- that touched a man's heart who read it over a century after she so thoughtfully crafted it.  The nature of her requests so inspired him that he made it his goal to honor her memory in a most befitting and lasting way.  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Update on Green Lawn Cemetery, Columbus, Ohio

Sharing this story from WBNS TV-10 in Columbus "College Students Help with Vandalism at Green Lawn Cemetery" 
"PUBLISHED: .
UPDATED: ."
The recent vandalism at a Columbus cemetery is now the focus of a college course.
"Green Lawn Cemetery just announced a $1000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the culprits.
Now Columbus State Community College students are helping with the tedious task of finding and mapping all of the damaged gravestones.
“Like a museum, like walking through a museum,” said Roger McGlaughlin.
Mcglaughlin strolls through Green Lawn Cemetery to take in the history.
“It’s just gorgeous,” said McGlaughlin.
Mcglaughlin restores gravestones. He had no idea he'd find work on this trip. And so much of it.
“It’s just uncalled for,” said McGlaughlin.
Hundreds of stones knocked over and broken. Vandals have hit about eight times since August.
“We’re 170 years old and so the families may not be here anymore,” said Green Lawn Cemetery Board Chair Randy Rogers.
History destroyed and the repairs may never get done.
“It takes specialized tools and materials and those are expensive,” said McGlaughlin. “It’s very time consuming, yeah.”
The cemetery just teamed up with Crimestoppers to offer a reward for information leading to an arrest, and they have beefed up overnight security.
“We do have several cameras in the cemetery, we move them around,” said Rogers.
Help is coming in another form as well. Students from Columbus State's geo-mapping department are logging all of damaged stones.
“So what we look for is the type of marker it is we look for the names on it, the dates on it,” said Columbus State Associate Professor Annie Parsons. “The type of damage, sometimes they’re toppled, sometimes they’re broken.”"
~~~~
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
© 2001-2016 by David K. & Leona L. Gustafson
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Thursday, December 22, 2016

2016 Ends on a Sad Note -- The Extensive Vandalism of Monuments and Grave Markers at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio has been the Worst Ever

Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus, Ohio , which on the website "Find A Grave" lists 143,084 memorials, and 49 listed as famous, was once among Ohio's most preeminent cemeteries - being Columbus' largest - but has now become vastly violated with increased vandalism.  The criminal destruction of monuments and markers have happened on several occasions during 2016 leaving the cemetery needing more help on all fronts.  

So it is I feel compelled to share this entire news story from the "Columbus Dispatch" with details that should be of concern to anyone reading it whether or not they have ancestors, family members, or friends buried at Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus.    
~*~*~*~*~ 
By Shannon Gilchrist  
The “Columbus Dispatch”
Wednesday December 21, 2016 2:49 PM

“Grave markers nearing two centuries old lie on their sides in the dirt. Obelisks are shattered into pieces. Statues that have stood watch through the decades are pushed straight off their pedestals.

Over two summers, vandals have crept into historic Green Lawn Cemetery after dark on several occasions and have kicked and pushed and broken their way to more than $1.25 million in damage. The nonprofit Green Lawn Cemetery Association has turned to Central Ohio Crime Stoppers — and the public — for help.

"A couple of damaged markers, we can handle that," Green Lawn Trustee Randy Rogers said. That happens in a storm or when a giant limb falls from an old tree. But more than 600 monuments? "It's completely overwhelming."

Anyone who turns over information leading to the arrest of a cemetery vandal or thief will receive a $1,000 cash reward, said Crime Stoppers President Kristen McKinley. It will be an ongoing partnership between the two groups, with Crime Stoppers collecting information from tipsters, who will be kept anonymous, and the cemetery funding the rewards. Signs will be posted around the cemetery announcing the award, which officials hope will be a deterrent

"To the person or persons who are committing these despicable acts, you will get caught," McKinley said. "To the person or persons who have information regarding this or have knowledge of who is doing this, think about the families of the deceased who are buried in these gravesites. How would you feel?...Do the right thing."

Because of the dollar amount involved, said Detective Jason Evans of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, this is felony vandalism. He has gotten some leads but could use some more information, he said.

Green Lawn Cemetery, established in 1848, is 360 acres of rolling hills designed by a landscape architect. Many notable people are buried there, including Samuel Bush, the grandfather of President George H.W. Bush; former Ohio governor and U.S. Sen. John Bricker, who was the running mate of presidential candidate Thomas Dewey in 1944; World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker; and humorist James Thurber.

The oldest sections of the cemetery, which have seen the most damage, are the farthest from the main entrance.

The perimeter is about 3 1/2 miles with 2.2 miles of fence. Tuesday, a man cutting through the cemetery slipped right between two bent slats in the fence backing up to Brown Road

Cemetery officials think the 10 or so incidents, all during the warm months of 2015 and 2016, are related. The security patrol chased and almost caught two men on one occasion, and describes them as two white men around 20 years old, average height and build.

On Aug. 14, the vandals damaged 109 monuments in one night. On Nov. 26, the most-recent incident, they pushed over 30 to 40 markers, causing between $35,000 and $45,000 in damage. Just to reset a small stone marker costs $600, Rogers said.

"They've been very vindictive," he said. "They'll pick a tablet up and smash it on top of another tablet."

Some of the most-extensive damage is to a monument for Gustavus Swan, a War of 1812 veteran, Ohio Supreme Court justice in 1829-30 and best known for organizing Ohio's early banking system. He died on Feb. 6, 1860.

The vandals must have climbed the tall stone base to get to the columned portion at the top, and they shattered a life-size bust of Swan. The pieces, with the face destroyed, are still sitting at the base.

The cemetery has a portrait of Swan and a piece of the tile that the bust was made from. But to have it remade will cost tens of thousands of dollars

People can call in tips to Central Ohio Crime Stoppers at 614-461-8477 or using the website stopcrime.org. Identities are kept anonymous, McKinley said.

The association does take donations from the public, both by mail and in person at the Green Lawn office.

Rogers also started aGoFundMe.com page for cemetery restoration about a month ago.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


"Vandals destroy more than graves"
December 22, 2016

Author/Byline: Theodore Decker, "The Columbus Dispatch"

More than 150,000 of Central Ohio's dead have been laid to rest in Green Lawn Cemetery since 1849, and they say there is room for another century of burials.

Here among Green Lawn's 360 acres lies Franklinton's founder, Lucas Sullivant. Philanthropist Hannah Neil is buried here, as are World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, artist Alice Schille, and humorist James Thurber.

There are opulent shrines to the well-to-do, where sunlight shines through Tiffany-style glass windows, and modest stones erected in tribute to generations of mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

Occasionally, especially in the cemetery's more recent history, there have been those who would defile the place. They have hacked bronze fixtures to sell for scrap and torn up the lawns with a stolen dump truck. Over the past two summers, vandals have toppled and broken hundreds of monuments, causing damage that the cemetery association now estimates at more than $1.25 million.

"It's completely overwhelming," Trustee Randy Rogers told Dispatch Reporter Shannon Gilchrist.

Rogers' comments came as the cemetery announced Wednesday a partnership with Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, hoping that a standing offer of reward money will out those responsible for the ongoing destruction.

It's a special breed of pond scum that delights in the wanton and sustained vandalism of a cemetery. The more recent damage has been confined largely to the cemetery's older and historic plots, probably because those graves are farthest from the entrance and weasels are adept at sniffing out the coward's path.

With rows of weathered granite and centuries-old trees, it's easy to think of the place as frozen at a point long past. But while the bulk of the broken monuments may date back decades, the vandals' disrespect is an affront to even the most recent families to mourn at Green Lawn.

Just this month, some of those families have paid their respects to an 87-year-old South Side husband and father who ran a wrecking company and served with the Army's 503rd Field Artillery Battalion during the Korean War. To a Grove City woman who spoiled her grandchildren, loved to knit and crochet, and made hats and blankets for infants who were ill. And to a noted photographer whose pictures chronicled decades of the African-American experience in Columbus and beyond.

The vandals have stolen some of the peace of the place even from those who have been spared physical damage.

One woman, whose family has deep ties to Columbus and whose mother died on Dec. 5, said generations of her family are buried at Green Lawn. She goes there to reflect and pay tribute to her ancestors, and one day she'll be buried there too.

Hearing about the vandalism left her disgusted and worried, to the point that she didn't want her name mentioned here on the off-chance that her family's graves might be targeted.

"It's beyond comprehension to me, what someone would be thinking to do that," she said. "We're talking about a cemetery. It's supposed to be people resting in peace.

"It's almost too much to bear," she said.

Her mother, though, was a positive force in life and remains one in death.

"She wanted the world to be better, starting with her," the woman said.

Here's what she imagines her mom would say about the vandals:

"We have to get to those sorts of people, and encourage them with positivity, and let them know they are loved."

That is a mere fraction of the legacy of Green Lawn. A kindness standing firm against hatred, even as headstones fall.

tdecker@dispatch.com


@Theodore_Decker

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


PUBLISHED: 12/21/16 02:03 PM EST.

UPDATED: 12/21/16 02:09 PM EST.

"Recent vandalism reported at Green Lawn Cemetery has caused approximately $1.25 million in damage, according to the cemetery.
Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and Green Lawn Cemetery officials held a news conference Wednesday announcing a reward regarding the repeated vandalism.
A $1000 reward was announced for any information leading to an arrest/indictment in the case.
The incidents reportedly took place at Green Lawn Cemetery between August and November. Several headstones were destroyed at the cemetery and glass was broken in a mausoleum."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


1721.14 Cemetery policemen.

The trustees, directors, or other officers of a cemetery company or association, whether it is incorporated or unincorporated, and a board of township trustees having charge of township cemeteries, may appoint day and night watchmen for their grounds. All such watchmen, and all superintendents, gardeners, and agents of such company or association or of such board, who are stationed on the cemetery grounds may take and subscribe, before any judge of a county court or judge of a municipal court having jurisdiction in the township where the grounds are situated, an oath of office similar to the oath required by law of constables. Upon taking such oath, such watchmen, superintendents, gardeners, or agents shall have, within and adjacent to the cemetery grounds, all the powers of police officers.

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Ohio Legislature's Lame Duck Session Ended Without Passing SB106 or HB395

Sharing from the Greater Ohio Policy Center - December 2, 2016:


Subject: Re: [Restoring Prosperity to Ohio] Comment: "Ohio General Assembly: 2016 Election Review, Lame Duck, and Upcoming Budget "


"HB395 (Pelanda) has received a single hearing in the House Finance Committee. That took place on November 15. The bill is not scheduled to be heard next week. 

We have inquired with Rep. Pelanda’s office to find out if there is a plan to take any other form of action on the bill in lame duck (such as amending it into another bill) but as of 3pm have not received a response. 

SB106 (Tavares) has not received any hearings and will not before the end of lame duck session."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

HB395 and SB106, are quite similar in nature. :

As Introduced
131st General Assembly
Regular Session H. B. No. 395
2015-2016
Representative Pelanda
Cosponsors: Representatives Green, Grossman, Fedor, Ruhl, Hill, Sprague
A BILL
To amend sections 3705.17 and 4767.01 and to enact section 4767.09 of the Revised Code to establish the cemetery grant program and to make an appropriation.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As Introduced
131st General Assembly
Regular Session S. B. No. 106
2015-2016
Senator Tavares
Cosponsors: Senators Yuko, Seitz, Williams
A BI L L
To amend section 4767.03 and to enact section
4767.10 of the Revised Code to establish the
Township Abandoned Cemetery Maintenance Grant
Program.


  

Friday, December 9, 2016

Remembering a National Hero and Ohio Son - John Herschel Glenn Jr.


My thoughts:  At this time in America, and indeed around the world, we who now live can attest to witnessing and or personally experiencing an atmosphere of increased divisiveness amongst people who are at odds with one another on many fronts. 

We can also take time individually and collectively, to reflect on the life of one man, an Ohioan named John Herschel Glenn, Jr. , who brought us together through his long life of service to America on many fronts; and now with the sad news of his passing.  We remember and honor John Glenn, and express our gratitude for his many contributions that left our world a better place because of what he did to positively change it.   

~*~*~*~*~

Sharing below only a few of the many websites with information about the life of American veteran, senator, astronaut, and proud Ohio native, John Glenn; with heartfelt tributes to his life of service, and sincere condolences to his family for their profound loss.:

Life History of John Herschel Glenn, Jr. - Wikipedia

Profile of John Glenn - NASA

Find A Grave

Cleveland dot com

New York Times

NPR

The John & Annie Glenn Museum

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Monday, November 28, 2016

Utilizing Both "Billion Graves" and "Google Local Guides" Leads to Better Locating and Documenting Obscure Cemeteries & Sharing Results with Other Researchers

I am pleased to share information and links from Kerry Porter who enjoys "raising awareness of obscure cemeteries" -- And she is doing a great job of it! 

Sharing information from Kerry about the advantages of using both "Billion Graves" and "Google Local Guide" programs:


"A quick summary of why I use Billion Graves is quite simply that it helps me the best to find obscure cemeteries while on the road and document them efficiently. When I first started many years ago Find A Grave did not have a mobile app and was completely archaic in its ability to document and upload photos of cemeteries. Billion Graves is free. Billion Graves offers a great system that I have thoroughly enjoyed using and has never presented any problems for me.  

The find a cemetery feature of the app is the main way in which I locate obscure cemeteries in the country that are otherwise not known to sites such as Google. While locating and finding many of these obscure locations I do make a point to add the locations to Google maps to better help genealogy researchers and other people find them more efficiently. 

If you enjoy visiting and locating cemeteries the way I do I really recommend joining the Google Local Guide program which will help you better document and preserve the cemetery; it is through Google for general public knowledge that is better access by anyone."


"The Google Local Guide program is a fantastic free program offered by Google in which you can update, review, and even add new locations to the official Google Map and search engines.  I am a member of this program, and use it with my smartphone to update information on obscure historic cemeteries, and even add them to the Google Map to help other genealogy researchers find obscure cemeteries. 

Many older cemeteries are not on the Google Maps and this makes it harder for people to locate and research using the internet. There are also rewards with this program for frequent use, not to mention the great satisfaction of Simply helping other people. 

If you enjoy visiting cemeteries and have a SmartPhone, I highly recommend joining this program so you too can help document and share information about the cemeteries to the public." 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kerry is also posting her cemetery and gravestone photographs on "Instagram." 
*~*~*~*~*~
Thanking Kerry for sharing her useful tips that enable other researchers to also better locate, document, and share information about Ohio's obscure cemeteries that might otherwise remain lost and forgotten! 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Spotlighting the Ohio History Connection As a Cemetery Preservation Resource

The Ohio History Connection (formerly: Ohio Historical Society) has a dedicated page on its website for cemetery preservation.  
It is found under the category sub-heading of: 
~~~~~~~~~~
The "Ohio Historic Inventory Form" is also worth learning more about and its importance for completing and having as a record for a cemetery in Ohio.   
Sue Tietz can be contacted to learn more about the "I-form":

Susan Tietz, Survey and National Register Manager

Administers the National Register of Historic Places program in Ohio, and manages the Ohio Historic Inventory, and Ohio Archaeological Inventory.
~~~~~~~~~~
Also,

The Ohio History Connection holds genealogy workshops during the year; and some include cemetery themed presentations.
The 2017 schedule is now posted online, and a cemetery related presentation is scheduled in July. Pre-registration is required.:
"Finding and Restoring an Early Holmes Country, Ohio Farm Cemetery"
"Have you driven by a cemetery and seen the headstones off their bases and scattered throughout the cemetery and thought “Somebody should restore this cemetery.” Diane Druback and her husband did just that restoring the cemetery of his third great grandparents.
Come and hear the fascinating story of how they used genealogical records, patents, track books, and plat maps to locate the Lowe Cemetery.
Once they found it, they encountered cows using it as a pasture, which had knocked down all the tombstones.
Discover their detective work as they repaired the headstones and matched them to their original locations. Speaker: Diane Druback
Date: July 22, 2017
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
Location: Ohio History Center
Cost: $15.00 Ohio History Connection or FCGHS members, $20.00 non-members, pre-registration recommended"
https://connect.ohiohistory.org/workshops/genealogy1
~~~~~~~~~~
Thanking the Ohio History Connection and its Preservation Office for their ongoing endeavors that bring more awareness and education about Ohio's cemeteries, and the great need that exists to better protect and preserve them.  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A Concerned and Caring Teenager Sets a Great Example when He Sets Out to Restore an Abandoned Family Graveyard

Sharing this heartwarming story of Jamison Neal, a junior at Piketon High School, in Pike County, Ohio.  Along with his father, Steve, Jamison took on the project of clearing away the tall overgrowth that had overtaken the gravestones at a small family cemetery known as the Chenoweth Cemetery. 

~*~*~*~*~
So, please Click HERE to read the full story and learn just how much of a positive difference one person can make when they follow through with a plan that brings awareness to the plight of a cemetery in need, even one that has been neglected for a long time.  
I'm sure we'll be hearing more good news about this once forgotten cemetery because of the labor of love work Jamison and his father Steve did that restored respect and preserved it.
~*~*~*~*~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
There is also one outstanding gravestone photo request for an infant named, John B. Chenoweth, who was born on September 25, 1836 and who died January 10, 1837.  
If his grave marker is found and photographed, the picture can be added to his "Find A Grave Memorial." 

Friday, November 18, 2016

What Happens When Cemetery Levies Fail? You Have to Get Creative!

Sharing a report of this sad outcome for the Brookfield, Trumbull County, Ohio cemeteries after the levies for them failed following this last election.  

"Brookfield Voters Reject Levies for Cemeteries and Parks" appeared in the "Sharon Herald" on November 9, 2016 (Sharon, Pennsylvania) the day after the election.  


"BROOKFIELD – With nearly 4,000 votes tallied, two half-mill levies for parks and cemeteries were defeated in Brookfield.
Voters turned down the permanent cemeteries maintenance levy and the 5-year renewable parks maintenance levy about 60 percent to 40 percent.
Together, if passed, the levies would have put an additional $124,000 a year into the township’s finances and allow for needed repairs and upkeep at Brookfield Cemetery along Route 7 near state Route 82; at Payne’s Corners, a smaller cemetery the township owns; and at the park on the village green."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On October 24, 2016 a pre-election article was published entitled:  "Wanted: Money for Park, Cemetery -- Brookfield Township Propose Levies to Cover Necessary Maintenance Costs"  by Sandy Scarmack, head writer of the Sharon Herald.

"BROOKFIELD – Township trustees in Brookfield say they literally have nowhere else to go but to ask the residents for some money to keep up the park and the cemetery.
On Nov. 8, two levies will be on the ballot, asking taxpayers if they will agree to a half-mill tax, which is about $70 per household, to shine up the park and provide perpetual care for the cemetery. Each half mill will add $62,000 to the budget. Together, if passed, the levies would put an additional $124,000 a year into the township’s finances and allow for needed repairs and upkeep that is out of reach now, according to Trustee Dion Magestro.
Both areas are important, he said, but the maintenance at the cemetery is a state requirement that cannot be ignored. 
“We are obligated to provide two things as township officials. Roads and cemeteries. We don’t have to have a police department or a fire department. Everything else could go away, but we have to take care of those two things per the Ohio Revised Code,” he said.
The street department does its best to maintain the cemetery, but still there are headstones toppled over, rust on the chapel doors and grass that’s a bit too high most of the time, Magestro said. The only income for the cemetery is the sale of the plots and the fees for burials. In 2015, that came to $38,000. Maintenance costs were $85,000, he said.
Going back three years, there has been a deficit of about $23,000 every year between income and expenses. With a half-mill tax, the money would be used to make up that difference and to start a separate cemetery fund to ensure perpetual care. Magestro said he isn’t sure people understand that the township is responsible for “hundreds of years of maintenance” at the cemetery along Route 7 near state Route 82 and also at Payne’s Corners, a smaller cemetery the township owns. 
“People don’t give much thought to that kind of stuff when they’re young and healthy,” he added.
As for the park, he considers that Brookfield’s “diamond in the rough” because it’s a pretty place, but time and Mother Nature have worn down some of its better features. For example, Jenny Junction, a children’s play area, has fallen into disrepair, Magestro said. It was dedicated in 2000 to the memory of Jennifer Lynn Boley, a 14-year-old struck and killed by lightning at the park in 1995. 
Other glaring problems, he said, are picnic tables that are peeling apart, buckled pavement and flooded baseball fields. Magestro credits the Brookfield Youth Association with pitching in money every year for taking care of the fields, but care of the park runs an average of a $50,000 deficit every year.
He’d also like to add a security system, he added.
The half-mill levy for the park would be in effect for only five years, he added. “Hold us accountable. Make sure we do what we say we will. If we don’t keep it in tip-top shape, rescind the levy,” he said.
“In Ohio, as trustees, we don’t have the option of just raising taxes. We have to go to the people, and that’s how it should be. But like I always say, if you don’t vote, then you don’t have the option of complaining,” he said."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I sent an email to the Brookfield Township Trustees and received a reply from Dion Magestro:
"...all of the trustees here genuinely share the same concern with our obligations.We know where said obligations ... will continue to work vehemently towards those goals. Thank you for reaching out to us. We will be putting together a plan to ask for donations or asked to be remembered in peoples wills when that time comes. This is an ongoing problem that we will continue to try and mitigate."
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Some of my suggestions included working to bring about increased awareness of the plight of the cemeteries under their care through the media and with local genealogical and historical groups.  Getting more like-minded people who care about their community cemeteries together to volunteer in various capacities will ensure that the local cemeteries will not be forgotten.  
Also, check with the county tourism bureau to learn about obtaining grant money funding for needed repairs at a cemetery that has potential for being the site of historical tours.  
*~*~*~*~*~*
Brookfield Township has a great website!: 
http://www.brookfieldtwp.org
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~