Non-profit cemeteries need rescue plan aid
Here are several reasons why some of the funding from the American Rescue Plan should be directed to local not-for-profit cemeteries.
We lost hours of volunteer time in 2020 and into 2021. Those hours had to be made up by paying for mowing that would have been done by volunteers.
This took our already very limited funds away from earmarked projects such as buying/repairing equipment, cutting down dead trees and repairing roads, stones and monuments.
A grant from the ARP funds is appropriate for distribution to these cemeteries.
The people buried in these cemeteries are people that founded this city as well as thousands of veterans who fought for this country.
This is not a problem for just the handful of people working to make these cemeteries presentable.
The deplorable conditions are a problem for all residents of Altoona and all government officials. Kicking this can down the road needs to stop.
Those few of us working these cemeteries are not gaining anything financially, so why is the problem falling on the shoulders of a few?
Rose Hill Cemetery has been brought back to life by a handful of volunteers giving all of their time and energy.
The city of Altoona already has the resources needed to step in and take care of these cemeteries. They pave roads, cut trees, mow grass on public spaces throughout the city and they repair equipment.
All these resources are things these cemeteries need to keep them presentable and viable into the future.
It is more efficient for a city-run government already dealing with these maintenance items to take care of these cemeteries than it is for a handful of volunteers to try to get all these things done on their own.
The city government officials need to embrace the history of these cemeteries and add these cemeteries’ maintenance to their workload by directing some ARP funds to hiring additional public works employees specifically for this task.
If invested wisely, the money could go a long way on interest alone in paying for these employees and the necessary maintenance.
The recent Altoona Mirror article on the public meeting did not even mention that folks representing these local cemeteries did show up at the first meeting, and it was mentioned these funds should support local cemeteries.
Every other idea mentioned was printed but not that one. Why was that?
Again, I stress this is not a problem for the handful of volunteers. We would much rather spend our free time doing other things. With no assistance, we will eventually have to walk away, and these cemeteries will be officially abandoned.
Please address the issues before that happens.