AUGUSTA, Ky. — There's new life for a centuries-old cemetery as a group of older volunteers spend hours of hard work restoring the Augusta Hillside Cemetery. Some of the tombstones date back to the Civil War.
WCPO first reported on the story in 2019, when the group was running out of money. Now, the gift of giving is affording the cemetery a facelift.
“It feels good,” said volunteer Dan Danehe. “I’m retired. Gives us something to do”
He's one of the younger volunteers, cleaning up the cemetery at age 71. Danehe said the group wanted to restore the cemetery as a point of community pride.
“For me, I feel it’s a warranted community service,” he said. “Very little maintenance, totally neglected, obvious abuse. Tombstones had been pushed over or broke.”
Allan Sellers was part of the group who originally started the cleanup.
“It’s respect for the cemetery, you know?” he said. “This place really needed a lot of TLC.”
Since that time, the volunteers have gotten a good number of donations from out of state.
“We’ve had thousands of dollars donated to this project,” Sellers said. “From Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana. A lot was here in town.”
In May 2020, a bake sale raised $5,000 for the project and that started the ball rolling.
“Quikrete Concrete out of Cincinnati donated a skid of concrete,” Sellers said. “Local businesses have donated flags and material.”
And after a hard day’s work, Augusta Mayor Mike Taylor’s Corner Café has footed their bill.
“For the last two years, we’ve been going there for lunch,” Sellers said. “It's been taken care of.”
Navy veteran Danehe said that for him, volunteering at the cemetery provides a services to those who served before him.
“I came home,” he said. “A lot of veterans didn’t."
As the sun sets on another day, their work is nearly done. The end is in sight. They expect to have the work completed in the next couple of months.
“Well, I think we feel pride in doing something like this, really,” Sellers said. “It really needed it.”
People interested in donating to the cause can find instructions on how to do so here.