Cemetery restoration project approved in Owls Head

Donations welcome
By Beth A. Birmingham | Sep 07, 2018
Courtesy of: Michael Voncannon A sample of some of what needs to be repaired at McPhail Cemetery in Owls Head.

Owls Head — The Owls Head Cemetery Committee was given approval for a restoration project in the McPhail Cemetery for the summer of 2019 by the Board of Selectmen Sept. 4.

The project will use funds from the new Cemetery Reserve Account, established by the voters at the August town meeting.

The town was given the cemetery in 2015, and the committee did an inspection and found that the cemetery was in good condition, compared to the other cemeteries in the town’s control, according to a synopsis by Michael Voncannon, Cemetery Committee member.

"These past few years have been very hard on this cemetery and the latest inspection revealed that at least 25 headstones are in need of repair," she said in a report to the board.

Voncannon explained that because of the way the site is terraced, many of the headstones set on sturdy bases have had foundation issues and have come off their original rubble foundations.

"There are many factors causing the erosion of the earth around the base of headstones -- use of Roundup to ease maintenance, aggressive weed trimming, creating a ditch around the bases, flattening of previous mounded earth around the base to make maintenance easier, to name a few," the report states.

In spite of good intentions, what happens over time is that the soil erodes and the rubble base is exposed, allowing even more exposure and animal habitation, resulting in an unstable base and an unsafe headstone.

The other issues in the cemetery are the usual leaning and fallen headstones and dirty markers, Voncannon noted.

The committee will seek the guidance and expertise of Joe Ferrannini, of Gravestone Matters, who conducted the restoration on Hall Cemetery on Ingraham's Hill last summer.

The estimated cost for the anticipated four-day project is $3,150 -- to include $2,800 for Ferrannini's fee, $200 for foundation sand, and $150 for rental of a port-a-potty. The committee expects to obtain most of the funds from the Reserve Fund and the remainder from donations.

"Two townspeople have offered to donate $1,000 each -- one for work specifically on McPhail's and another for anything veteran-related," Voncannon said.

For more information on the restoration process, visit the Maine Old Cemetery Website at MOCA-ME.org or their Facebook page, accessible from the bottom of the MOCA website.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

Comments (1)
Posted by: PETER LAMMERT | Sep 09, 2018 08:10

When Joe Ferrannini was here in the Thomaston Village Cemetery this summer past, he used an adjustable heavy duty aluminum tripod that accommodated a chain fall hoist, to pick up and or move large monuments that were tipped over or  threatening to topple over. The tripod is fairly expensive because of the features that make the legs adjustable. I heard that the large-sized tripod that he used was in the $2000 range. The chain fall could be purchased at Harbor Freight.

I'm wondering if neighboring towns would chip in to purchase one of these tripods. I would volunteer to store it in our white Village Cemetery building.

If anyone would like to see what our working group accomplished this summer, please call. I would be most pleased to show all the stones that were both salvaged and repaired

Regards, Pete Lammert, Sexton, Thomaston Village Cemetery 691-2900,

If you wish to comment, please login.