Rebuilding Nature

RANDOLPH – Three years after an EF2 tornado cut through Randolph Cemetery, 22 maple trees have been planted in an effort to restore the grounds.

In 2010, the tornado ravaged the Randolph Cemetery grounds, destroying more than 38 adult maple trees, as well as damaging many headstones and obelisks. But, members of the Randolph Cemetery Association and employees of Meridien Energy and Signature Stallions, of Randolph, planted 22 trees as phase one of a restoration project completed last week. The trees were acquired from Schichtel’s Nursery of Springville.

According to Howie T. VanRensselaer of the cemetery association, after losing so many trees to the tornado, the town of Randolph assisted the association in safely removing the trees, but lack of funding kept the association from planting more. However, following fundraising and a large bequest from an anonymous donor, the association has made progress toward restoring the cemetery.

“We are currently replanting many of the maple trees in nearly the same locations that they were damaged or blown over,” VanRensselaer said. “It’s an unbelievable burden lifted off of our shoulders. We’ve been working on this diligently for the past three years, and to see it finally come to fruition was exciting and emotional.”

In addition to VanRensselaer, cemetery association president John Knowles Congdon and vice president Bob Matson were on hand to assist Eugene Greenman, Billy Heilman, Dave Shelters, Dennis Pangborn and Jesse Bliven, of Meridien Energy. The cemetery board is grateful of William Schettine, the owner of Meridien Energy and Signature Stallions, who played a significant role in making the project possible, VanRensselaer said. Schettine donated the company’s time and equipment to make the project possible.

In addition to the $8,000 tree planting project, the repair of more than 100 headstones and obelisks has also been completed. Phase two of the project is set to occur in the spring, when an additional 40 oak and maple trees will be planted, and the final headstone repairs will be completed, VanRensselaer said.

Donations are still being accepted for the project, and can be sent to the Randolph Cemetery, 14 Church St., Randolph, NY, 14772. Checks are to be made out to the Cemetery Association.

For more information or to get involved, call Congdon at 485-3359 or VanRensselaer at 358-4628.