By Lasca Randels
LEESBURG — Improvements are being made to the Leesburg Cemetery, thanks to Plain Township.
The cemetery was formerly managed by the Leesburg Cemetery Association but has been turned over to the township.
Plain Township Trustee Tyler Huffer said the township is paying for the restoration work and attempting to do a little each year.
Some headstones are in such poor condition that you can no longer read the engraving, Huffer said.
Craig Arnett of Arnett’s Monument Cleaning & Care Services LLC, Silver Lake, is taking care of the restoration work.
“The condition of a cemetery is a reflection on the town,” Arnett said. “It shows a reflection of how the town cares.”
He said oftentimes people tend to blame the cemetery mowing crews when monuments end up on the ground.
“But it’s not the mowing crew that knocks them over. What happens is, in good old Indiana we’ve got the freeze and thaw where you’ve got moisture trapped in between there,” Arnett said, which can result in monuments tipping over.
Arnett is a member of Cemetery Conservators for United Standards (CCUS), an organization that believes in using no-harm methods to clean and restore headstones.
“No power washer, no power tools… it’s all done by hand,” Arnett said. “Nothing that will do damage to the stones.”
In addition to the restoration work, other enhancements are being made to the cemetery. New sidewalks have been added around the outskirts of the cemetery.
A new section has been prepared, which offers 186 burial spaces at a cost of $250 per lot.
“Back in the day, cemeteries weren’t a doom and gloom type of thing,” Arnett said. “People had picnics there after church and would actually spend time in cemeteries back then.”
The Leesburg Cemetery was established in the early 1800s. Restoration and re-leveling work on headstones is expected to take another two to three years to complete.
“There’s a lot of history here and we’re just trying to restore it and bring it back to life,” Huffer said.
Plain Township maintains cemeteries in Leesburg, Oswego and Monoquet.