September 22, 2019
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These Mainers are breathing new life into caring for the dead

MACHIAS, Maine — Funeral home owner Jonathan McClure has successfully resuscitated a dying Machias Cemetery Association.

For a while, the association had no board members and its fate was unknown.

It all started at the April 13 meeting of the Machias selectmen, when former association President Paul Hoyt and caretaker Julian Richardson announced they wanted out of the association, formed in 1926 to care for the Longfellow and Court Street cemeteries. Both said they were having trouble finding people to do the actual work.

“I don’t want to do it anymore,” said Hoyt, who estimated he had been on the cemetery board for 10 or 12 years. “I’m too old. I’m tired of doing it.”

Hoyt wanted to turn the association back over to the town, but McClure, owner of McClure Family Funeral Services in Machias, asked the selectmen to give him two weeks to round up some volunteers.

The selectmen agreed to McClure’s request and asked Hoyt and Richardson to submit their resignations in writing at the following meeting on April 27. They did, and the selectmen accepted their resignations, leaving no one on the board.

McClure was out of town and unable to attend that meeting, but he contacted Town Manager Christina Therrien before to let her know he was still interested in helping and that he had found others who were. Therrien asked him to attend the May 11 meeting and to bring a list of potential appointees for the cemetery association.

The list included himself, Daniel Scott, Alfred Andrews, Cat Cannon, Gail Sprague and Michael Gooch.

“They’re ready to go,” McClure said at the May 11 meeting.

The selectmen appointed them, along with Therrien, who volunteered to be involved.

In April, Hoyt told the selectmen the cemetery association has more than $100,000 in its coffers and that it costs about $5,000 per year to maintain the two cemeteries.

The problem, he said, was manpower and finding people to maintain the grounds.

But McClure told the selectmen May 11 that he has secured a crew of inmates from the Downeast Correctional Facility and a crew of clients from Arise Addiction Recovery to do the mowing.

“Both crews are ready to go just as soon as they have access to mowers and gas,” McClure said.

McClure said Hoyt and Richardson had done an outstanding job of caring for the cemeteries over the past few years. Because of the good condition of the cemeteries, McClure said he did not know that the association was having any problems finding workers until he talked to Hoyt in April.

“I guess it’s just not public knowledge,” he said.

McClure said he believes it’s important to preserve cemeteries.

Families “deserve to have a location to bury their loved ones,” he said.

Contacted after the May 11 meeting, Hoyt said he was happy McClure was able to find people for the association.

“I’m glad they’re getting someone because they have to get going with mowing,” he quipped.

 



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