GREENFIELD — Chainsaws buzzed as a late winter storm dropped snow on the area.
The group of Boy Scouts and their dads wasn’t deterred by the cold spring break weather, not while a sizeable task lay before them. The group will be a regular presence over the next few months at the plot of land off Fortville Pike as the Scouts work to help clean a historic cemetery dating back to the 1830s — a project applauded by local preservationists who note there is little local funding available for such efforts.
Nick Brock, a junior at Greenfield-Central High School, has vowed to make over the Mt. Gilead/Reeves pioneer cemetery near Fortville Pike on County Road 375N for his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout service project, the capstone experience of his Scouting career.
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To start, he and 10 others spent part of their spring break trimming trees and weeds and picking up wayward trash in the cemetery. At least eight more work days are planned through mid-summer as the group restores the historic cemetery.
Brock, who is leading the effort, chose to clean up the cemetery for his Eagle Scout project after learning only a small chunk of county funds is set aside for maintaining the county’s nearly 100 pioneer cemeteries.
There are more than 400 graves on the burial grounds where the Scouts are focusing their work; without the volunteers, the area wouldn’t get nearly as much attention, said Hancock County Pioneer Cemetery Commission president Marciann McClarnon.
Brock said he visited a few cemeteries with McClarnon before settling on Mt. Gilead/Reeves. Some of the graveyards were smaller and wouldn’t require as much time to clean up, he said. With more than 400 graves, there is plenty of work for him and the others to do — a project worthy of his Scouting capstone, he said.
The Eagle Scout Service Project is the last major project a Boy Scout completes. The Scout is encouraged to pick a project that allows him to display service to the community and leadership — and the work should be something he’s passionate about, Brock said.
“They want it to mean something to the Scout and to actually have an impact on the community,” Brock said.
McClarnon said the cemetery commission receives only about $1,500 annually to maintain the county’s 92 pioneer cemeteries. The commission, run by volunteers, is small and can’t regularly maintain each of the cemeteries, she said.
“What (Brock) and his Boy Scout troop are going to do is so helpful. They are going to provide some much needed love and care to that cemetery,” she said.
Some of the gravesites there were dug as recently as 2009, and families still visit their deceased love ones, Brock said. They deserve a clean cemetery, he said.
“People have family here. We just want to make it look nice for them” he said.
Josiah Ward, a former Boy Scout who now attends Trine University, joined Brock and other Scouts during his college spring break to help clean up the cemetery. Brock didn’t have to give much of a pitch before Ward signed on to help, he said. Ward supports the Boy Scout program and enjoys giving back to his community whenever he can.
Having completed his own Eagle Scout project, Ward said Brock’s is a great choice.
“He’s very passionate about it. …He’s great at leading it,” Ward said.
Brock said the group wants to complete the project by mid-summer, in time for the cemetery commission to host a community gathering to reveal the restored graveyard and to teach community members about historic cemeteries.