CATERING – The Daily Mail

Work continues to restore the historic Hill Grove Cemetery in Connellsville. Roxanne Abramowitz | The daily mail

Efforts to improve the historic Hill Grove Cemetery will continue with a volunteer clean-up day.

Stu Adams, a Connellsville transplant who has made it his mission to restore Hill Grove as a viable cemetery, wants residents to turn up at 8 a.m. on August 27 to mow grass, trim around headstones and beautify Snyder Street Cemetery.

“They can bring push mowers, trimmers, riding mowers, hedge trimmers, rakes, pruning tools,” he said of the volunteers. “We will provide cold water to everyone who comes.”

Adams said the community support so far has been amazing and he hopes for more.

“We’re making so much progress,” Adams said. “Night and day are different this year compared to last year, and we are slowly putting tombstones in place.”

Most of the property has been mowed to the length of residential grass, he said, adding that a volunteer was at the cemetery on Tuesday digging up toppled headstones driven into the ground.

“We’ll be making a massive effort to get everything ready for Memorial Day next year,” Adams said.

Adams has set that day because, by then, he hopes to see American flags on the grave of every member of the military buried in the cemetery.

“We have now documented 433 vets buried at Hill Grove,” Adams said.

He said the cemetery is the final resting place of two soldiers from the Revolutionary War and 166 from the Civil War.

Adams said the list includes military personnel from the Spanish American War, the Mexican War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

He estimated that there were now flags on about 100 military graves.

“Pretty soon, you’ll never think of this as an abandoned cemetery again,” Adams said.

The ultimate goal is to resume the sale of burial grounds to help provide perpetual care in Hill Grove.

Adams said space for burial grounds is possible throughout the developed portion of the cemetery.

Another acre of land will be available, but needs to be cleared of trees and other growth, he said.

Nancy Adams, Stu’s wife, is now in charge of the charitable fund and plans are underway to pursue donations which would be tax deductible, he said.

“We thought of a kind of social media program to recruit 100 families to pledge $10 a month for perpetual care,” he said.

Stu Adams’ involvement in Hill Grove began after he visited the graves of Nancy’s family members and found them to be in a “deplorable state”.

After improving these burial grounds, he decided that the entire cemetery needed to be repaired and soon learned that the organization responsible for upkeep was short of members and money.

Elected

“I’ve enjoyed what Stuart is doing,” Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln said. “He came out of nowhere to assume this. You can see what he did with the entrance and worked a lot in the cemetery.

Lincoln encourages residents to help out during cleanup day, either by volunteering in the cemetery or by donating food and water to volunteers.

“I imagine a lot of people have family members buried in the cemetery, and I hope they can help,” the mayor said. “I’m confident Stuart will have a good maintenance plan.”

Lincoln said Connellsville is lucky to have the residents it has to help out with good causes, “and Stuart has chosen a big goal.”

The 14-acre cemetery is mostly in the city, with a smaller portion in Connellsville Township.

Under third-class city code, the city would not be responsible for upkeep if the organization that controls the cemetery ceases to exist.

Even so, city officials don’t want the historic cemetery to turn into an eyesore.

In recent years, the city has struggled to determine who sits on the cemetery board and how much money is available for upkeep, Lincoln said.

However, this is not the case for Connellsville Township, which would inherit charge of Hill Grove’s portion of the township.

“Anything extra in township would be hard to take on,” supervisor Todd Miner said.

That said, Miner indicated that the township will help Adams achieve his goal, perhaps by cutting down trees and providing heavier equipment.

Minor said he will see if the work can be provided by people who owe community service under a program run by District Judge Ronald Haggerty Jr. of Connellsville.

Lincoln said the city will contribute to the effort in any way possible.

Joe Abramowitz is a Daily

Mail staff editor. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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