CENTRAL POINT — Residents who have family and friends buried in the city's only graveyard say it's a sad place in more ways than one.
"It's a disgrace to look at, much less be buried in," said Jackson County resident Gail Shaffer, who said a good friend, a veteran named Sam, is buried there.
Residents and groups interested in volunteering time, supplies or money to help Central Point's only cemetery can contact Fidelity Quick Print owner Rick Bettenberg by e-mail at email@example.com or call 541-664-5228.
For groups who want to help in the interim with specific projects, contact Aaron Nadauld, one of the cemetery's owners, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-772-6969.
Residents are hoping to rally the community to help make the cemetery, set among oak trees along Hamrick Road, a place to honor the dead rather than an eyesore with broken headstones and overgrown weeds.
During Memorial Day services at the war memorial at nearby Don Jones Park, Shaffer said people commented on the cemetery's condition alongside the pristine memorial. State Rep. Dennis Richardson echoed residents' concerns.
Suddenly, rumors began to fly about groups planning to step up and care for the old place.
Contacted on Friday, Richardson said plans soon could be under way to rescue the old IOOF cemetery once and for all.
"It is a big job, and they have to have a vision of how to do it and they have to have people willing to help," Richardson said. "But a number of different groups are starting to step up and offer to help, so we think it's really going to happen this time. Regardless of why it may have sat for decades, now is the time to get this done."
First dedicated in 1868 and a final resting spot for some 1,900 people, the cemetery has been the subject of various ownership transfers throughout its history.
In recent years, the parcel transferred from the Central Point Independent Order of Odd Fellows to the Central Point Masons. Both groups struggled for years to maintain the site until aging membership and lack of funding took a toll.
Local residents Aaron Nadauld and Damian Idiart took over the cemetery in 2007 and said at the time they wanted to help the community by taking care of the graveyard through the newly formed Restoration and Beautification Foundation.
Nadauld said this week that interest and offers of help had waned.
Without community support, Nadauld pointed out, the cemetery is too big of a job for any small group.
In response to the current condition of the cemetery, Nadauld said what may seem like obvious solutions could cause more harm than good if not properly facilitated.
For example, adding water to the site could cause problems with sinkholes and unlined graves and could cause excess vegetation growth when weeding and mowing are already an issue.
County resident Betty Glass, whose husband is buried in the cemetery, said she's hopeful the latest rally for help fares better than efforts in years past.
Her husband and a slew of extended family members are buried there. Glass owns a plot next to her husband's for her own eventual resting place.
A recent visit found overgrown weeds, which will soon dry out, and too many dirty and broken headstones to count.
"It's been very sad. It's just gotten so far out of hand. I think a lot of people want to see something get done," Glass said.
"I take care of the ones I know out there, but I just know the whole thing is a little too big a job for me," she said.
In coming months, Richardson said plans are to recruit community members and establish a "game plan" to restore, then maintain, the old cemetery.
Residents and groups interested in volunteering time, supplies or money can contact Fidelity Quick Print owner Rick Bettenberg by e-mail at email@example.com or by calling 541-664-5228.
For groups who want to help in the interim with specific projects, contact Nadauld by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-772-6969.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at email@example.com.