Local Cemetery Collapsing into Lake - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Local cemetery collapsing into lake

MILTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio - When a loved one is laid to rest you assume their grave will also be at peace for all eternity.  But that's not the case for some graves at a Mahoning County cemetery.

Vaughn Cemetery was here long before Lake Milton - markers reveal graves from Civil War veterans - but lately it seems the lake is taking it over.

Erosion is eating away the bank of the cemetery and it's collapsing into the lake.

So far, it's estimated that at least six graves have washed away and the problem is just getting worse.

"I keep backfilling the area with dirt, as you can see behind me," says Kevan Lloyd, the cemtery groundskeeper. "Each year, I'll go out with 20 feet of dirt and mother nature comes back 24 feet; she takes a little more each year."

Each year, Lloyd dumps over 200 tons of dirt in the area that has collapsed, but a combination of the lake and its freeze/thaw cycle takes away the dirt again.

The township decided the only way to stymie the process is a $350,000 retaining wall.

Township leaders have hit their own wall trying to figure out how to get the funding because the lake is state property and the land is township.

They say it's hard to get an ear of a lawmaker or state official willing to come up with the money, so they're hoping the people actually buried here can help.

Township trustee Russ Weimer says the townships in the process of documenting the veterans from borth world wars and cavalry members buried in the cemetery. 

"We're going to approach the veterans administration and maybe get some money, make it a collaborative effort," he explains. "If we can get a little bit from everybody, maybe we can get in resolved."

The largest collapse occurred in 2006 and township officials think they may be on the verge of another. All early records of the township were destroyed in a fire in the 1950s so there is no gaurantee of how many graves are in the cemetery or where they might be located.

"Once it's gone, it's gone and there's no way to get it back," Weimer expresses. "These are the founding fathers of the township, maybe the founding fathers of the county."

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