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State funding to support repairs at area cemeteries

A handful of Mahoning Valley communities have received funds for improvements at cemeteries, including repairing and resetting cemetery markers and monuments, and installing signage.

The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing awarded $104,000 in grants to 44 Ohio cemeteries through the Fiscal Year 2023 Cemetery Grant Fund.

The division registers more than 4,100 cemeteries in the state and administers the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission, which assists in resolving complaints against registered cemeteries through mediation and conciliation.

“This is the fourth year the division has awarded the grant for registered nonprofit cemeteries, which can be used for exceptional maintenance of their grounds or training of their personnel,” division Superintendent Daphne Hawk said.

“We are honored to provide funds to help Ohio’s cemeteries improve recordkeeping, restore monuments, repair fencing, and improve signage,” she said.

The grant is funded by $1 of every $2.50 from burial permit fees received by the division.

Hawk said cemeteries that applied and did not receive funding this year are being encouraged to apply again next year.

Grants were awarded this year to cemeteries in 32 counties.

Liberty Township Administrator Martha Weirick said the money will be used to help with repairs to foundations for many markers at Churchill Cemetery.

She said Cemetery Sexton Tim Monroe applied for the grant.

“When markers and monuments get old they begin to fall apart or are leaning over and the foundations need repaired. Some markers are sinking into the ground. This will help us get this project done,” Weirick said.

Tom Frost, Jackson Township trustee chairman, said while the township has set aside $2,000 in the budget each year for work in the cemetery, because there is no cemetery levy, the additional $2,500 grant will be helpful with foundation repairs.

“The money for the cemetery comes from the general fund. This was the first time we applied for this grant and were fortunate to receive it,” he said.

Frost said work at the cemetery involves repairing and straightening foundations, which is ongoing with only so many able to be done each year.

“Because this is a big cemetery, it can be expensive work so the grant will help us to get some of the work done,” he said.

Frost said the cemetery was decorated last weekend with wreaths placed on veterans’ graves as part of the Wreaths Across America project.

Niles Mayor Steve Mientkiewicz said the city has $5,000 set to be used for the cemetery in 2023 in addition to the $2,500 grant. He said the grant will cover more than 50 percent of the project costs for new signage at Niles City Cemetery.

He said the money will be used for a cemetery section signs upgrade project to replace basic metal section signs with new ones that are “more modern looking, noticeable and appealing.”

Mientkiewicz said the project will be done next spring.

He said the 10 to 12 signs help identify sections of the large cemetery.

“This was the first time the city applied for the grant and we received it. If the Department of Commerce has any other grants, we will certainly apply for other projects,” Mientkiewicz said.

Farmington Fiscal Officer Barb Scott said the $2,500 will help with straightening markers and foundations at Hillside Cemetery.

“We have many headstones that need straightened. Some are falling over and leaning and the foundations need fixed. We will use $6,000 of our funds and the grant to cover cost of work,” Scott said, noting work will be done next spring.

Mike Hovis, Bazetta Township trustee chairman, said the $2,388 the township received will be used at Hillside Cemetery, which in January 2019 was hit by a tornado.

He said the funds will be used for pouring cement at the front entrance foundation of the chapel and for landscaping work. This will help with improving the chapel ramp area.

“We appreciate any funds we receive to help the township. The less money we have to take from the general fund helps us,” he said.

The cemetery sustained damage from the winter tornado, but in recent years the township has been able to make needed repairs and straighten markers that were knocked over.

St. Stephen Cemetery, located at 129 W. Park Ave., north of Waddell Park and across from Howmet in Niles, is a private cemetery of the church.

For more information about how the Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing works with Ohio cemeteries, visit com.ohio.gov/real.

By the numbers

Local cemeteries that received funds for maintenance:

• Jackson Township Cemetery, $2,500 to repair and reset monuments

• Churchill Cemetery, Liberty, $2,500 repair and reset monument

• St. Stephen Cemetery, Niles, $2,500 to repair and reset monuments

• Niles City Cemetery, $2,500 to install section marker sign

• Hillside Cemetery, Farmington, $2,500 to repair and reset monuments

• Hillside Cemetery, Bazetta, $2,388 to fix chapel ramp and upgrade cemetery rules sign

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