Sign project opened up to the community

Published 10:41 pm Monday, August 27, 2007

By Staff
BUCHANAN – Every man, woman and child with a connection to Oak Ridge Cemetery has a chance to get involved in the new entrance sign on Front Street in Buchanan, planned as a memorial to those buried in the cemetery.
The sign is a project of Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery and is being erected through donated time and materials by area contractors and union locals. However, about $5,000 of the estimated $25,000 cost is still needed.
"A number of people have suggested we open the project up to people of the community with connections to the cemetery," said Lyle Sumerix, Friends president, "whether it be family, friends or someone with just an interest in the cemetery. So, we are appealing to individuals, school and youth groups, civic organizations, professionals, business and industry, basically anyone with a connection to the cemetery, to help make this sign possible.
"We don't care whether they give 50 cents, $5 or $500. Any money we receive over and above the amount needed for the sign will be used by Friends in its continued restoration work at the cemetery," he said.
There will be no mail or door-to-door solicitation, he added.
The names of donors will be placed in the Oak Ridge Cemetery file in the Local History room of the Buchanan District Library. A drawing of the sign is available for inspection at the library.
Friends is a volunteer group working with the city to restore the city-owned cemetery to its once proud heritage.
In addition to work on individual headstones, Friends also is responsible for the The Old Burying Ground memorial as the city's first cemetery where Kathryn Park now stands, and now is working on a memorial to identify those buried with only numbered graves in Potter's Field.
The entrance sign will feature field stone columns topped by a metal arch spelling out Oak Ridge Cemetery. The concrete cores for the columns already have been poured.
The idea for a sign came when it was pointed out that there was no way for people driving along Front Street to know the cemetery's name, said Sumerix. Front Street originally served as the primary entrance to the older section of the cemetery, but most visitors now enter via Terre Coupe Street. That entrance has had a field stone gateway for years.
Donations may be made out to Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery, earmarked "memorial sign" and mailed to: Friends of Oak Ridge Cemetery, P.O. Box 142, Buchanan, MI, 49107.
All donations are tax-deductible, since Friends is designated by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
Donors and others with questions may contact Sumerix at (269) 695-9733, (until Sept. 11 and after Oct. 3), or Donna Lace, secretary-treasurer, at (269) 695-5676.