BATH TOWNSHIP — Preparations are underway at Byron Cemetery, 3256 Trebein Road, leading up to the Memorial Day weekend and the beginning of the summer season for the cemetery grounds crew.
The grounds crew is currently clearing off any remains of decorations on gravesites and has been mowing and trimming around hundreds of gravestones, corner markers, and shrubs, according to Bath Township Cemetery Supervisor Teresa Phillips. She noted that the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend is the busiest time of the year for the grounds crew as they prepare for the growing number of people who will visit the township cemetery during the national holiday.
Earlier this month, the grounds crew laid sod on the gravesites that were opened for burials during the winter months. Phillips pointed out that spring is an ideal time to sod and seed the cemetery grounds because frequent rains help the sod to root quickly. The township maintains the spacious cemetery annually which covers approximately 61.7 acres.
In commemoration of Memorial Day, members of the Fairborn VFW Post 6861 have placed an American flag in every flag holder that is mounted at the gravesites of local veterans interred at the cemetery. For many years, the devoted members of the local VFW post have volunteered their time to place the flags on veterans’ graves prior to the national holiday.
“Every year, we have a handful of people that come to us saying that their love one, who was a veteran, did not receive a flag. That’s because we had no knowledge that they were veterans,” Phillips said. “Therefore, we want to get out the word to the public to notify us about their love ones’ veteran status. To our knowledge, Byron Cemetery has interred around 1,500 veterans.”
The Fairborn VFW Post 6861 Honor guard will be holding its annual Memorial Day service at the cemetery, which honors the courageous men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the U.S. military. Veterans, their families, and the public are invited to attend the memorial service, which will be held at 9 a.m. on Monday, May 28. VFW members will return to the cemetery one week following the holiday to collect all the flags. Phillips noted that all Memorial Day decorations must be removed by Saturday, June 2.
The cemetery grounds crew is also hard at work pouring a number of concrete foundations for new headstones. Phillips said the crew had completed the first round of pours this month and will pour more foundations again in June and throughout the rest of the summer when they receive orders.
During the May 16 township meeting, township trustees approved a plan that calls for digging up veterans’ in-ground markers that are incased in concrete at the foot of veterans’ headstones and installing them to the back of the headstones. Phillips said the concrete would be cleaned off the markers before installation, which would be performed by a monument company for a fee. The crew will also backhoe the areas where the markers were removed and will reseed the ground.
The township trustees also approved the purchase of a hydraulic lift for the dump bed on a John Deere Gator used at the cemetery. According to Phillips, the lift would cost approximately $1,500.
“It is really a needed feature when we dump dirt or stone. Right now, it takes two workers to lift the dump bed,” said Phillips.
Phillips also noted that this year the cemetery has had 87 interments to date, in comparison to 110 interments this time last year.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.