Cemetery improvements underway

A tall seedless mulberry tree has been donated by Mile High Nursery of Cory for the first planting in the Eckert Cemetery Board's landscape improvement fund drive. Shown in the photo are, from left, Cindy Potter, nursery employee; Leigh Ann Hunt, cemeter

The Eckert Cemetery Board of Directors has initiated a program to improve landscaping at the cemetery. The effort will be officially launched on Memorial Day with the start of a fundraising drive.

"We are asking the community and families of people buried at the cemetery to consider donating money to the new landscaping fund. It is a very nice way to remember a loved one," said Bobbie Jones, president of the cemetery board.

"Donations will go to enhancing the cemetery for all visitors," she continued. "We need about $10,000 to make the entire plan a reality, and we are really fortunate that descendants of James A. Hunsicker, who was the first secretary of the cemetery, have already provided $25,000 to get the fund started. By 2019, our 130-year anniversary, we want to have the new landscaping and benches done and the new section ready to go."

The fundraising drive is needed because several of the large old cottonwood trees had to be removed in recent years, and additional drought-hardy trees are needed for shade and variety. The cemetery board also wants to install water lines in the new northern section and begin landscaping there. The addition of benches and other visitor amenities are also being planned.

To help start the effort, Mile High Nursery at Eckert and owner Phil Ezpinoza has donated a fruitless mulberry tree to kick off the landscaping campaign. It will be planted in the cemetery by Memorial Day.

The cemetery barely breaks even financially with its current operations and has no additional funding to use for replacing trees or the aging water lines and grass mower. The board would like to add a variety of drought-hardy trees and shrubs and has worked with the Master Gardeners to select the new plants and locations.

The cemetery board will recognize donors on a sign at the cemetery on Memorial Day 2018. Additional donations of suitable nursery stock, trees and shrubs are also welcome with approval of the cemetery landscaping committee. The board will also be selecting benches to be placed around the grounds which can be dedicated to the memory of individuals or families with a plaque for the cost of the bench.

Those wishing to give to the fund may mail contributions to the Cemetery Landscape Fund, P.O. Box 125, Eckert, CO 81418.

The cemetery is nearing its 130-year anniversary. The graveyard along side Highway 65 was begun in 1889. It was laid out near the Baptist Church in 1988. The church is no longer standing. The land was donated for use as a cemetery by the owner, Emma Wier, in 1901. It became an official public cemetery in 1948 when Delta County created a modest tax mil levy for it. A volunteer board of three members operates it today: Bobbie Jones, Leigh Ann Hunt and Bob Eckels.

For more information contact board secretary Carol Vela at 970-835-3388.

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