Friday, September 16, 2011

Laying Damaged and Broken

Wind can be a powerful force, and the storm of the July 4th weekend showed our town just that. All things were not match for its power, from wood, to metal, and even stone. Our fair cemetery was not spared from its wrath, and sustained a significant amount of damage. The wind bend our mighty flag pole, ripped up our trees, and toppled headstones. All in all 30 headstones were toppled, 26 of those in the oldest section of the cemetery. Many have asked what is to be done by the city to repair the headstones, and the truth is, we really didn't know ourselves. While the cemetery is the cities property, the headstones belong to its residents and their families. Initially, we felt that we would leave it up to the families of those fallen headstones to make the proper repairs. However, as we found out, it was difficult to find the family of some of Oberlin's first residents, and even if they knew, would they care to front the cost? Luckily, Mr. Dale Waldo, a monument company owner volunteered to come speak with us about the possibility of fixing the stones at a discount price since he grew up in Oberlin. After finding out prices, around $2500 total, we decided that we could front the costs, and try to raise money later to pay for the fixes. However, it was decided that we should first attempt to fix a few of the headstones ourselves. Gary Zodrow was gracious enough to loan us his time and tools to show us the proper way to reset a headstone, and we found it to be easier than expected. Over the course of a week, we had fixed, replaced and repaired all of the headstones ourselves at a very minimal cost.

While the city did take care of the repairs this time, I have urged the city to not make this a common occurance. It is only a matter of time until this happens again, and maybe on a large scale. So, I will reiterate, the city will not be repairing headstones that are damaged by natural causes. We simply cannot front the costs that are required to properly repair these historical monuments. However, there is one thing that I am going to urge the city council to do. I intent to ask the council to set aside around $1000 dollars each year for the restoration of headstones within the cemetery. We will decide which headstones are in the most dire need of repair, and have those stones repaired by a professional. By doing this, we can assure that our older headstones will not be forgotten and left to lay broken on the ground. I ask that when next years budgeting comes around in June that you speak with council members to assure them this is the correct direction to head in.