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PCPA’s efforts are paying off at cemetery

It’s taken much planning and plenty of “elbow grease” since beginning their effort to save a significant piece of local history.

And it is paying off.

The Pioneer Cemetery Preservation Association (PCPA) has been steadily making strides since its inception in April 2008.

PCPA held its first workshop in February 2009 to learn appropriate ways to clean and repair the graves.

“We had a small but dedicated group of members and volunteers who spent several Saturdays cleaning the grave stones,” said member Miriam Nixon. “It took lots of scrubbing to remove all the mold, mildew and other grime that has accumulated on the headstones and grave slabs during the past half-century, but their efforts paid off. It was amazing how much better things were looking.”

With this portion of the restoration work almost complete, the PCPA is moving forward to the next phases of the master plan to be accomplished during 2010.

“We have graves that have suffered substantial deterioration of years that need much more than a good cleaning,” Nixon said. “It’s going to require the assistance of restoration experts with excellent professional skills and tools, a stone mason and a brick mason. We’ve found the right people and the contractual relationships are now being negotiated.”

This phase will come at a cost, with restoration expenses estimated to take approximately half of the donations given to the PCPA.

Anyone who has glimpsed the cemetery’s broken gates and the precarious lean of its iron fences will recognize the need to repair and restore these structures, a major secondary priority of the group.

“The PCPA board is studying the need/cost of restoring internal fences surrounding specific grave sites,” said Nixon.

“A master landscaping plan is being formulated as the third priority of the preservation effort. Given the extensive damage of grave sites caused by the large volunteer oak trees in the cemetery, a decision has been made to remove some of these trees. It’s become a major problem in proper maintenance of this historic site.”

According to Nixon, there has been excellent community support of the restoration effort. Led by the Parmer scholars, more than $15,000 has been contributed, with another $15,000 of pledges to be received during 2010 – 2013.

“These monies will go a long way toward helping us meet those priorities,” Nixon said.

“However, additional funding is needed to meet the ultimate goal of establishing a self-sustaining endowment fund for the Pioneer Cemetery. This will ensure the continued proper maintenance of the cemetery. And we can take satisfaction in the knowledge the pioneer settlers of Greenville/Butler County will be honored for their settlement in 1818, which led to the establishment of our wonderful community.”

During late April or early May 2010, a celebration of the restoration effort will be held in the Pioneer Cemetery. Final plans of this function are being made and will be announced in March. “The PCPA needs the continued community support via monetary contributions and/or volunteer labor,” Nixon said. “We heartily express our gratitude for the strong support we have already received from our community.”

Additional information can be shared by contacting members of the PCPA Board of Directors: Richard Branum, Jennifer Coon, Anne Feathers (chairperson), Caroline Gafford, Nonnie Hardin, Claudia Lewis, Annabel Markle, Charles Newton, Miriam Nixon, Walter Parmer, Fay Poole (Treasurer), Jill Stallworth, Jennifer Stringer, Joseph Talmadge, and Judy Taylor.