Tombstones to be restored
By Jeanne Starmack
Liberty Township will use insurance money to restore five historic tombstones that were damaged when a Hummer crashed into Church Hill Cemetery in June.
Trustee Jodi Stoyak said Wednesday it will cost $20,000, or $4,000 per stone, to restore them. The township’s insurance will pay for it, she said, and will pursue reimbursement from Safe Auto, which insures the driver who damaged them.
Safe Auto also will pick up the $1,000 deductible for the damaged cemetery fence, she said. The estimate to fix it is between $1,700 and $1,800.
The accident happened June 26, when Raymond Lewis Jr., 58, of Girard was driving east on Church Hill Road and lost control. He crashed through the fence and ran down the stones.
He told the Ohio State Highway Patrol he believes he had a medical issue and does not remember the accident, according to the patrol’s report.
That section of the cemetery is the oldest, and the stones are unreadable. The records for who is buried there are lost, added Tim Monroe, Liberty’s former road superintendent.
The families who buried their loved ones in that section of the cemetery, where some grave sites are 200 years old, are long gone, Stoyak said.
“It was really important to me to get them restored, whether the people are around or not,” she said. “I think cemeteries are important.”
Stoyak also has sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Transportation to extend a guardrail along Church Hill Road past the cemetery to protect the oldest section, called Section C, which is alongside the road.
“I don’t want this to happen again,” she said.