Volunteers needed to help clean up the Central Point Cemetery

CENTRAL POINT — A pioneer cemetery long in need of regular maintenance is finally receiving help in the form of grave-marker repairs and a steady appearance of volunteer cleanup crews.

A concern for the community since it was vandalized in March 2011, the Central Point Cemetery has likely seen more attention during the current year than it did over the past decade.

If you go

What: Volunteer clean-up at historic Central Point Cemetery

Where: Near Hamrick and Vilas roads

When: 8 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Aug. 10

What to bring: Work gloves; loaner tools and extra trash bags are appreciated, too

This Saturday, volunteers from various cemetery and genealogy groups — and a few concerned neighbors with family buried there — will descend on the old graveyard along Hamrick Road from 8 a.m. to noon.

Dedicated in 1868 and the final resting place for more than 1,900 people, the cemetery was vandalized by two young boys who broke or tipped over more than four-dozen grave markers during a vandalism spree that resulted in their families paying more than $4,900 in restitution.

While the restitution came swiftly, repairs and cleanup efforts have seemingly been on the back burner as weather and other issues have arisen over the past two years.

Last spring, the cemetery began to turn a corner when a group of Crater High seniors adopted the burial ground for their senior project and Dirk Seidlecki of the Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries worked to raise awareness about the cemetery's condition.

The owners of the cemetery, Medford lawyers Damian Idiart and Aaron Nadauld, said this week that repairs begun in early summer are well underway.

In addition to fixing the vandalized stones, the owners agreed to foot the bill for additional stones that have fallen into disrepair or been damaged by the elements over the past century.

Nadauld and his brother-in-law, Idiart, took over the cemetery from the previous owner, the Central Point Masonic Lodge, whose members became too elderly to keep up with the maintenance work.

"The repairs have been underway for several weeks, and we are using restitution for the stones that were damaged," Nadauld said.

"When they run out of that money, we're going to kick in and cover the cost to repair any of them that are cracked or broken or starting to lean."

Nadauld declined to disclose the full amount needed for repairs.

In addition to fixing the grave markers, Central Point native Kathy Hoober plans to coordinate monthly cleanup efforts to ensure the site does not backslide.

One of several local residents who voiced concern when repairs to the vandalized headstones took more than two years to be scheduled, Hoober was excited to learn that the markers were being fixed.

"It's a miracle, but it's wonderful that it's finally getting done," she said.

"I heard that they started about a month ago, and it will be really nice to get everything back to how it should be."

Hoober invited interested people to show up Saturday to help with cleanup efforts, which will include trimming vegetation and removing dead or low-hanging tree branches.

Residents willing to brave the smoky Rogue Valley skies on Saturday should bring work gloves. Loaner tools and extra trash bags are appreciated, too, said Hoober.

"If some of our community who have people buried here, or even people who don't but they just care about the old cemetery, could come clean up their own plot or a friend's plot, and then do one or two more, that would help us get the job done that much faster," Hoober said.

"We're hoping to get out here every second Saturday, and we can use all the help we can get!"

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com

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