Fate of Forest Hill Cemetery discussed
For the past 12 years, the Forest Hill Cemetery at the corner of Routes 128 and 197 in Dresden has been maintained by husband and wife Sherry and Dan Moody.
In 2006, they took over maintenance from his mother, who had died. On Monday night, the Moodys asked the town to take over responsibility for the property.
“The original cemetery association was created in the 1800s,” Sherry Moody said. “But it needs seven members to be legal. Currently there is no one else.”
For a person to be on the association, they need a stake in the property, through ownership – or partial family ownership – in a lot.
“We approached the selectmen a few years ago about having problems keeping up with maintenance and costs, as we don’t sell lots anymore as people’s feelings have changed,” Sherry Moody said. “We’ve been doing a lot of the upkeep ourselves and with the seven trees that fell last fall, and the mowing ... it’s become overwhelming, and unfair to those buried in the cemetery, including many veterans.”
Moody stated there were veterans from the Civil War buried in Forest Hill. Chairman Dale Hinote nodded in assessment, and said there are also soldiers from the War of 1812.
“Have you tried to get more members for the association, Selectman Dwight Keene asked.
“We’ve reached out to lot owners,” Dan Moody said. “We’ve written and spoken to them, but there’s been no interest.”
“I would be willing to serve,” Hinote said. “And there are many Masons buried there; I’m sure a member of the Masonic Lodge would be willing.”
“It’s not just members, it’s the true manpower to do the work,” Dan Moody said. “And the money in the perpetual care fund does not even cover the costs of mowing the grounds.”
“We are really hoping at this point to work out something with the selectmen to transfer ownership from the association to the town,” Sherry Moody said.
“It would have to be voted on by the town to take ownership,” Selectman Allan Moeller Sr. said.
Hinote asked Administrative Assistant Michael Henderson to contact the Maine Municipal Association to find out what would be involved in a transfer of ownership. After the meeting, Henderson and Moody briefly conversed and exchanged contact information.
When asked how large an area had to be mowed, Sherry Moody explained that the cemetery is 12 acres, split into two sections.
“Half of it is basically a field, and that Dan usually does with a big mower,” Sherry Moody said. “The other six acres have stones and many of them are old and work needs to be handled carefully, especially with the weed whacker.” According to Moody, it takes upwards of 24 hours to finish mowing, which needs to be done six or seven times a season.
Selectmen will meet next at 6p.m. March 19 at Pownalborough Hall.