China Cemetery Committee members and guest Kelly Grotton, whose town office duties include acting as semi-official town historian, met the afternoon of Aug. 9 primarily to hear a report from summer intern Savannah Clark.
Clark has been transferring information from China gravestones and town records to a program called Crypt Keeper Cemetery Software. She visited all but two of China’s 33 cemeteries, she said, sometimes in company with committee chairman and town office staffer Julie Finley.
Crypt Keeper records names, dates, relatives and other information for everyone buried in each cemetery. Veterans’ graves are noted, with the war in which the person served listed if known. Obituaries can be added, Clark said, for more details; and records can be updated to reflect new information and new burials.
China’s cemetery records are not yet on line, but Clark and Finley said they will be when the work is finished.
Clark said she did similar work in Vassalboro in the summer of 2021. The Town of Vassalboro website has a site on which researchers can look for people buried in the town.
Cemetery committee members also talked about work that needs to be done in China’s cemeteries. The town is responsible for almost all of them; the Chadwick cemetery on Route 32 South (Windsor Road) is maintained by a private association and two are maintained by the Society of Friends.
Cutting dead trees is an essential part of maintenance, Finley stressed; living trees are an attractive benefit, but dead ones are likely to fall and damage gravestones. Several trees were removed from Lakeview Cemetery, on Lakeview Drive.
Local forester Tim Basham sent a request to authorize removing a tree, or at least part of it, that threatens stones in the Deer Hill Cemetery.
Fences are another maintenance problem, Finley said. She has received several comments about the deteriorated fence along the front of the China Village Extension Cemetery, on Neck Road, and others need work. The Lakeview Drive cemetery fence had to be taken down to do the tree work and is replaced for now by a white rope strung between the posts.
Committee members briefly discussed wooden fences – Finley likes the appearance of white-painted wood – versus vinyl fences versus other types, like chains between posts or chainlink. Finley has had trouble getting cost estimates from fence companies, but she said vinyl appears to be expensive.
In addition to tree removal and fence repairs, which Finley recommended as priorities, Clark had compiled a list of 53 broken gravestones needing repair.
The 2022-23 cemetery budget China voters approved at their June 14 annual town business meeting was $49,500. Much of it goes for mowing, Finley said, with most-visible and most-visited cemeteries kept tidy all summer and isolated small ones mowed once a year.
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