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What's wrong with this picture?

October 11, 2009

Editor's note: Each Monday, The Herald-Mail will highlight an infrastructure issue or other problem, and will try to find out what is being done to fix or improve the situation.

We will not tackle situations involving neighborhood or domestic disputes or consumer problems.

The problem: A centuries-old family cemetery near Old Forge Elementary School is overgrown with weeds and brush, and many of its headstones are overturned. Nearby resident Aldine N. Moser Jr. wrote in about the cemetery's condition, noting that it borders school grounds, where children play and many events are held.

"It really needs cleanup and possible continual 'volunteer maintenance,'" Moser wrote. "This could be a community service cleanup for high school students to meet their volunteer/community service hours to graduate."

Who could fix it: The cemetery is private and has been cared for over the years by descendants of the Bachtell family members buried there.

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What they say: Sam Lyon, whose great-grandmother was a Bachtell, said he was the most recent one to tend the cemetery, but he became frustrated with the task when vandals reversed his hard work by leaving beer bottles in the cemetery, knocking over stones, and damaging the gate and stone wall that surround the cemetery.

Lyon lives near Staunton, Va., and the two-and-a-half hour drive also makes regular maintenance difficult, he said.

Lyon said his family would be happy to have a local group volunteer at the cemetery as Moser suggested, but warned that its upkeep is an "endless battle" of spraying and mowing.

"Ideally it would be nice if there was a Scout group that would adopt it as a permanent fixture kind of thing," he said.

-- Compiled by Heather Keels

If you are aware of a safety problem, a major annoyance or a pet peeve that one of our governmental bodies, an agency or an organization is responsible for fixing, send the information, and a photo if you have it, to:

What's Wrong With This Picture
c/o The Herald-Mail newsroom
100 Summit Ave.
Hagerstown MD 21740

You can e-mail the information to lindad@herald-mail.com.

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