Written by Kelly Kaczala
February 11, 2014
Jerusalem Township Trustee Joe Kiss has, in the last two years, led the effort to raise funds for a new entrance way to the historic Oakwood Cemetery.
It’s expected to be completed by spring.
When Kiss was first elected, he wanted to make improvements to the cemetery, he said.
“It was always one of my plans to try and get a new entrance gate. So just through efforts of my own and some other people throughout the township, we got it to the finishing stages. We got the pillars up and we got some marble coming in. It’s just been a project we’ve been working on and it’s finally coming to fruition,” he said.
“When the cemetery turned 100 in 2012, we put a new flagpole up,” he added, “but didn’t really have enough funds to get going on the new entranceway,” he said. “I always wanted it to have an authentic antique look with something like an archway, over two pillars on each side of the entrance of the drive. Basically, there are two eight foot columns on each side of the drive, and there is a stainless steel arch that goes over the top. There has never been, to the best of my knowledge, a real entrance marker to the cemetery. If there was, it’s been long gone.”
Funds from the cemetery budget, as well as donations from individuals and businesses have helped pay for the improvements, he said.
“A good portion is funded through donations and from different people in the community. It is going to cost the township and cemetery some money. Some of the project is being done with in-kind services from people who know what they’re doing,” he said.
Oakwood is the township’s only cemetery, and Kiss felt “there needed to be some identity to it.”
“There’s a sign that says `Oakwood Cemetery’ but it’s weathered. I really wanted something there that was more permanent for the next several generations of people,” he said.
He did research and found the names of the trustees who passed a motion to start the cemetery in 1912. Their names will be etched into an historical marker as part of the project, said Kiss.
“Then we went ahead and put on one of the pillars `Dedicated to the families of the Oakwood Cemetery.’”
The names of the township’s present trustees will also be etched in another marker, he added.
“It’s a real cool project. It’s going to be nice when it’s finished.”