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Help coming for rural Webster County cemetery

By Staff | Oct 28, 2011

Erosion in the southwest corner of the Oak Grove Cemetery, south of Lehigh, has exposed a number of graves — including this one which is about one-third exposed. The bank erodes into a nearby gully during heavy rains.

LEHIGH – An effort to prevent more graves in Oak Grove Cemetery from being swept over a hillside by erosion may be about to begin.

A group of landscape workers, led by Tim Schultz, has volunteered to tackle the problem, according to Phil Berglund, the secretary of the Sumner Township Board of Trustees.

”We were really kind of floored by the offer,” Berglund said.

“Those fellows, I guess, are ready to get to work.”

The township trustees are responsible for the care of the cemetery, which sits atop a hill on 310th Street, south of Lehigh.

Heavy rains in 2009 and 2010 prompted massive erosion which has left at least one burial vault protruding out into open space over the hillside.

”It’s actually gotten a little worse,” said Webster County Supervisor Eddy Peterson. ”It’s really sad.”

Charles Ewing attended a supervisors meeting in September 2010 and was quoted at that time in The Messenger as saying “Caskets and vaults are sticking out of the bank.”

The township trustees, Peterson said, ”are caught between a rock and hard place” because of the limited amount of money they have to make the needed repairs.

Berglund said the volunteer crew will have to move some graves away from the eroding hillside.

”Whatever’s in danger of going over we’re going to have to move,” he said.

He said he’s now working with the Webster County attorney’s office on the legalities involved in relocating graves.

Schultz couldn’t be reached for comment.

Burials spanning the centuries between the late 1800s and this year fill the cemetery.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or bshea@messengernews.net.

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