CENTRAL POINT — After suffering for years from inadequate maintenance, vandalism and licensing frustrations that proved discouraging for well-meaning volunteers, the city's historic graveyard could see some positive changes under new ownership.

CENTRAL POINT — After suffering for years from inadequate maintenance, vandalism and licensing frustrations that proved discouraging for well-meaning volunteers, the city's historic graveyard could see some positive changes under new ownership.

The Central Point Cemetery on Hamrick Road has been taken over by a nonprofit foundation formed to ensure its preservation.

Offering what they hope will be a fresh perspective and able-bodied volunteers, the newly formed Restoration and Beautification Foundation, made up of a handful of local families, has agreed to take the historic cemetery under its wing, said foundation spokesman Aaron Idiart.

Official records list Aaron Nadauld and Damian Idiart as owners of the seven-acre parcel.

Aaron Idiart said the two local families, local churches and civic groups wanted to ensure restoration and upkeep of the old graveyard as a service to the community.

They took on responsibility after learning last year that the aging membership of the Central Point Masonic Lodge was no longer able to maintain the site.

Now the final resting place for more than 1,900 residents, the Central Point Cemetery was dedicated in 1868. County records show land was added in 1891, 1892 and 1922. Two of three segments have burials dating back as far as 150 years, which include pioneer residents such as Granville Sears, one of the valley's first settlers, and William Constant Leever, a former mayor and hardware store owner.

The Central Point Masons took possession of the site along Hamrick Road in 1990 from the International Order of Odd Fellows. For nearly two decades, the Masons tended the grounds, repaired damaged headstones and attempted to catalog aging records for the graveyard.

In more recent years, lodge spokesman Bill Best announced the local order had met the same fate as the Odd Fellows.

"We just got to where we couldn't do it anymore. My wife and I spent almost five years trying to reconstruct the cemetery and get it taken care of, keep track of records "¦ we were just fighting a losing battle," said Best.

"It's too much to do if you don't have a big support base."

Idiart said the foundation hoped to recruit members of local churches, civic groups and families interested in caring for the cemetery.

Facing many of the same struggles as the cemetery's former owners, Idiart described the new foundation as "in the very beginning stages" but "looking forward to caring for the old cemetery."

Volunteers are needed to help mow, trim, pick up trash, make repairs and beautify the cemetery's historic elements. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to send an e-mail to beautificationfoundation@gmail.com.

To view records compiled by Bill and Jeri Best, visit online, www.Internment.net/us/or/Jackson.htm.

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at buffypollock@juno.com.