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Milford Beacon
  • Milford calls for volunteers to clean up Milford Community Cemetery

  • In an effort to beautify an historic element of Milford, the Milford Community Cemetery Board of Directors is recruiting volunteers to help clean up part of the cemetery at the northern most part of Church Street.
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  • In an effort to beautify an historic element of Milford, the Milford Community Cemetery Board of Directors is recruiting volunteers to help clean up part of the cemetery at the northern most part of Church Street.
    The Milford Community Cemetery clean-up day will be held this Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. and will focus on the area previously known as the Levi Cemetery.
    According to local historian Dave Kenton, this cemetery was utilized by black members of the community and integrated into the Milford Community Cemetery when it became part of the city’s responsibility about seven years ago.
    The cemetery is maintained in part by a perpetual fund established 80 years ago by Milford philanthropist Ruby Vale, from which only the interest on current funds can be used for the maintenance and upkeep of the cemetery. With an average annual budget of $40,000 to $50,000, Emory said it is necessary to sometimes use the city’s resources to dovetail and manage costs.
    “It’s definitely a nip and tuck game to make ends meet, but those are the resources we have,” Emory said. “It’s quite an undertaking, no pun intended.”
    By utilizing volunteers, the cemetery’s Board of Directors may be able to make a small dent in the beautification of a highly vandalized area.
    The focus of Saturday’s clean-up will be painting portions of the dilapidated chain link fence that greets motorists as they enter Milford. Portions of that fence are intended for replacement, but funds are currently unavailable to replace the entire 800-foot chain link fence.
    Milford Community Cemetery Board of Directors Member and Milford Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said that volunteers will focus on painting wherever it is needed, although the city may be providing boulders to replace any fencing that is removed.
    “It’s needed because it is a focal point coming into downtown Milford,” Wilson said. “It’s a mission in trying to enhance our downtown as this is the beginning of Walnut Street.”
    Volunteers will also help with trash pick-up and the removal of branches and other debris from the cemetery. Wilson encourages those interested to bring paint brushes, rollers, rakes and gardening gloves.
    The Milford Community Cemetery was originally established in 1875 by Odd Fellows and was known as the Milford Odd Fellows Cemetery until the organization’s disbandment in the mid-20th century, Kenton said. The Milford chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows officially dissolved in 1991, followed by a nine-year legal battle with the state Odd Fellows over ownership of the land and trust fund.
    Regardless of what volunteers are able to do during a clean-up event, it will take significant funds to replace the 800-feet of fencing around the former Levi Cemetery portion of the Milford Community Cemetery. Emory said there is also a need to replace the crumbling stone wall, which will come with an estimated price tag of $150,000 or more.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’re challenged with limited resources,” Emory said. “We take a little TLC out there and it’s shown over the years. People take those plots personally, and we try to treat them that way as well.”
    For more information about the cemetery clean-up on Saturday, call Milford City Hall at 424-3712.
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