UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — About a year ago, New Forest Cemetery came close to being abandoned because the lack of volunteers, workers and financial troubles. After a public meeting was held, community members came together to help save the cemetery. Now, they are experiencing similar issues.
“Our president will also be stepping down as well. So at this point, we’re in need of volunteers to assist in doing some of the work that our superintendent was doing and just to kind of help out here because we are in that point where we’re back to feeling almost like where we were before.” – Valarie Balckshear, Vice President
When Valerie and other members took over, the cemetery had a deficit of about seven thousand dollars and no equipment.
“So there were a lot of things that we did and we were able to bring ourselves out of that deficit. Which was in itself, a great accomplishment because we did it quite quickly.”
Once the superintendent left, they had help with the upkeep of the grounds but the equipment got broken. Now, Valarie and other members are doing what they can to maintain the grounds,
“Literally had to use weed whackers on 37 acres of hilly terrain and push lawn mowers.”
Valerie says she does not want to see the cemetery fail, especially because some of her loved ones are buried at New Forest.
“My father is here. I couldn’t see abandoning him, he would never abandon me.”
The members are asking for the public’s help. A garage sale is being planned for next month and the cemetery is accepting items to donate. All donations can be dropped off at the cemetery’s office.