Resident Of Hague Seeks County Commission Support To Restore Cemetery

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Headstone for veteran Elvin Brooks, who is buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery. Brooks’ headstone, along with those of others, is in need of maintenance and care due to lack of upkeep in the cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Jim Powell Jr.)

In 2007 Lynn Coullias, a resident of Hague, Florida, asked the Alachua County Commission for help in maintaining Pleasant Grove Cemetery.

In an email to commissioners, Coullias said the “site [had] become overgrown with vegetation and littered with debris.” Pleasant Grove is where military veterans, such as Pvt. Elvin Brooks and Rev. R.G. Gamble, are buried.

Initially, Coullias said she did not receive a response to her request.

Now, eight years later and after sending the same message to Lee Niblock, Alachua County manager, on Nov. 11, county commissioners are listening.

“I just wanted to see to it that these individuals got the proper burial and treatment that they deserved,” Coullias said.

On Nov. 17, it was added to the commission agenda. Mark Sexton, director of Communications and Legislative Affairs for Alachua County, said the city is working with Coullias on the issue.

“A county attorney is exploring state statutes and says there is quite a bit of statutes about honoring and respecting cemeteries,” he said.

The property on which the cemetery sits is now under private ownership and is partially covered by trailer park homes, Niblock said.

Because it is privately owned, Coullias was unable to gain access to the property in order to clean it up, Niblock said.

Jim Powell Jr., ancient records coordinator for the Alachua County Clerk of Court, is hoping to help restore Pleasant Grove.

Powell has a website dedicated to cemetery restorations. He is in the process of logging all of the information pertaining to Pleasant Grove Cemetery, he said.

Powell said for many years he served on the county’s historical commission, working with historical commission members, Daughters of the American Revolution members, the Alachua County Genealogical Society and [his] family on documenting cemeteries.

The headstone for Rev. R. G. Gamble has become nearly unreadable due to the lack of upkeep provided at the Pleasant Grove Cemetery. (Photo courtesy of Jim Powell Jr.)

Powell, his family, and the historical commission have revived their fair share of cemeteries over time, but the reasons have slightly differed.

“We started with the abandoned and neglected and then realized all cemeteries lose information over time, so we decided to do them all,” he said.

Powell said this information can be anything from a person’s name or location to details about him or her.

At the meeting, Niblock said he would like to make an effort to remind managers that they have a responsibility to maintain and keep their facilities clean.

About Joseph Kimber

Joseph is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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