On Thursday Governor Ned Lamont announced his administration would award state grants to 41 municipalities across Connecticut to provide maintenance to neglected burial grounds and cemeteries.
“Cemeteries are sacred places, and maintaining them is essential out of respect for the dead and preserving our local heritage,” Governor Lamont said in a release. “Particularly here in Connecticut, we have some of the oldest and most historic cemeteries in the nation. These state grants will provide municipalities with financial support to ensure that the deceased are remembered in a respectful manner.”
Alex Popp, who has volunteered to take care of the cemetery in Byram said there were many hands involved in securing the grant, including Tyler Fairbairn, Sarah Coccaro, and the Conservation Commission.
“We are fortunate to receive this generous grant from the State,” he said. “The plan is to hire a professional restorer with experience in cemetery preservation to straighten, lift, and clean several of the gravestone markers that are in immediate need.”
Mr. Popp said the long term goal is to draft and start to implement a master plan to care for the property.
“Hopefully the Town can fund a small annual allowance to keep progress moving forward,” he added.
The grants, which total $5,000 each, are being released under the state’s Neglected Cemetery Account Grant Program, which is administered by the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management.
Established in 2014, this program is funded by revenue collected by the Connecticut Department of Public Health from the issuance of death certificates.
Grants can be used by the municipalities to support basic maintenance of cemeteries, including the clearing of weeds, briars, and bushes; mowing of the ground’s lawn areas; repairing the ground’s fences or walls; and straightening, repairing, and restoring memorial stones.
The following municipalities have been selected to receive a grant, contingent upon the successful submission and approval of required contractual documents:
- East Haddam
- East Hartford
- East Lyme
- New Canaan
- New London
- New Milford