Project to preserve veterans’ grave markers

BATH TOWNSHIP – Bath Township Cemetery Supervisor Teresa Phillips and the cemetery grounds crew have taken on a project at Byron Cemetery that will help preserve the markers of deceased military veterans interred at the cemetery.

Phillips reported during the Nov. 20 township meeting that a number of VA markers that were installed flushed with the ground at the foot of veterans’ graves are sinking into the ground.

“Our grounds crew has seen this problem occurring especially in the older sections of the cemetery. We have discovered a few markers that have sunk so much that the grass has grown over them completely,” Phillips reported. “I don’t think they have been leveled previously, other than one here or there at the request of a customer.”

According to Phillips, approximately 1,500-to-2,000 veterans are interred at the cemetery, and about 75 percent of those veterans have bronze ground markers.

“It’s hard to know how many veterans’ graves are unmarked in the older sections. There are graves that date back to the early 1800s,” Phillips said. “These veterans’ graves entomb soldiers who defended this country in many different wars.”

The grounds crew has taken on the task of locating the sunken markers and will be working to raise and level each one.

“It is a big undertaking and will be ongoing as our schedule and weather allows. It is very time consuming and will not be completed any time soon,” said Phillips. “Out of respect to our veterans, the project needs to be done; and we will see it through to completion.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs furnishes, upon request and at no charge, a government headstone or marker for the unmarked grave of any deceased eligible veteran in any cemetery around the world. However, the family of the veteran is responsible for the installation of the marker. Phillips said the Department of Veterans Affairs also provides a medallion that is affixed to an existing headstone. In recent years, the medallion has become the popular choice of veterans and their families.

“We are proud to recognize the men and women who served and sacrificed for our country. The least we can do here at the cemetery is to make sure they are never forgotten,” Phillips said.

In other township business, Trustee Steve Ross discussed the billing process for fire protection and emergency medical services to all township residents and businesses. Ross explained that a township resident had recently contacted the township office about a bill for emergency medical services from Beavercreek Township EMS. According to the resident, Beavercreek EMS had requested information concerning the resident’s medical insurance provider, and the resident had expressed his concerns about privacy issues.

Ross explained that there are three sources of revenue for the fire and EMS departments servicing Bath Township. The first source of revenue comes from the contract agreement between Bath Township and the three townships.

Bethel Township Fire Department provides fire and EMS coverage to Zones 1 and 2, in the western and northern sections of the township for an annual fee of $150,000. Miami Township Fire and EMS provides fire and EMS coverage to residents in Zone 3 in the eastern section of the township for a fee of $110,000 per year. Beavercreek Township services Zone 4 in the southern section of the township, including Wright State University student housing, for an annual fee of $300,000.

The second source of revenue comes from residents’ private insurance providers that are billed after the fire and EMS departments make a run. Thirdly, the fire and EMS departments can soft bill township residents for co-payments or any remaining balance of a bill.

“Beavercreek and Miami Townships do all three. Bethel Township does not soft bill,” Ross said. “The township continues to say what we have said in the past — residents do not have to pay that soft bill. However, please allow the EMS departments to collect payment from your insurance provider.”

Ross noted that the fire levy renewal that voters recently approved pays for the annual fire and EMS coverage in all four zones of Bath Township.

“Again, the township trustees suggest that residents cooperate with the fire and EMS departments regarding the billing of residents’ private insurance providers, but you don’t have to pay the soft bill,” said Ross.

The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet again in regular session at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4 at the township office, located at 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Rd. in Fairborn. The meeting is open to the public.

By Linda Collins

For the Fairborn Daily Herald

Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.