Cemetery upkeep can be a difficult item to budget for, especially when the cemetery is an older property and seeing a decline in burials or no longer in use at all. Cities and organizations find it hard to balance paying staff to maintain something that is no longer being used by the public. But where these entities have problems, that’s where volunteers always seem to step up to help out. Case in point, the Future Farmers of America (FFA) students from Hatton High School.
The students took some time away from their summer break to help with the upkeep of the Templeton Cemetery in Mount Hope, Alabama. The cemetery is the final resting place of the C.C. Smith family is laid to rest. Both C.C. and his wife, Elizabeth, had donated land to the Hatton School District, as well as an endowment to the C.C. Smith School in 1923. The donation and endowment was set-up to ensure the family cemetery was maintained. The endowment was for $14,000, that has since grown to over $450,000 today.
Problems arose with the maintaining of the property when the C.C. Smith School was closed in the 1960s and later torn down in the 1980s. The district still leases the 580 acres of land, which brings in approximately $10,000 a year, but the school district unfortunately was unable to to keep up with maintaining the cemetery.
As a way to assist, the Hatton High School FFA, led by advisor Adam Daniel, started a community service project about four years ago, with work occurring three to four times a year, to help maintain the cemetery as a way to pay back the C.C. Smith Family for their donation.
Over the course of two days last week, the students did everything from mowing and weeding the cemetery to hand-sanding and applying a fresh coat of paint to the rod-iron fence around the C.C. Smith family plots, even adding marble chips within the area in order to help reduce weeding in that area.
As Daniels said of the project, “It [Templeton Cemetery] is in a really rough spot as far as for a yard. It’s not like going out and mowing a regular cemetery. This one is all grown up. We’ve been trying to kill weeds and brush and get the grass established, (Hatton, Edwards).”
The students also provided landscaping around their high school. As the FFA motto states, “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve,” and the students certainly are living those words.
For more of this story by Jeff Edwards of The Moulton Advertiser, click here.