Tree Planting Completed In Cemetery Restoration Project

RANDOLPH – A two-phase project involving the restoration of flora to the Randolph Cemetery grounds has come to fruition.

Last week, the Randolph Cemetery Association completed its task of planting of 29 trees in an effort to undo the damage that occurred when an EF2 tornado cut through the cemetery in 2010.

The project began last fall, when members of the association and employees of Meridien Energy and Signature Stallions planted 22 maple trees. This time, the 29 additional sugar maple and pin oak trees culminated in a total of 51 trees being introduced to the grounds – exceeding the 42 that were lost to the tornado.

According to Howie T. VanRensselaer, treasurer and trustee of the Randolph Cemetery Association, the timing of the project’s completion was deliberate, as the association wanted to have the trees planted before Memorial Day weekend.

“The good part is we’re now into almost our fourth complete year since this first happened, and, in that time, we’ve heard from numerous people not only from Randolph, but from Jamestown and places all over the country who come home for Memorial Day,” VanRennselaer said.

“We just can’t wait to hear what people think of what we’ve done because, when we had our (Memorial Day) parade last year, there were no trees. And we wanted the cemetery to look nice because we want to honor those who have come before us, and that’s what Memorial Day is all about.”

VanRennselaer said the project has already received positive community feedback since it began last fall.

“We have heard from several local people who have already seen the trees that they were very encouraged, and that the cemetery was starting to look normal again,” he said. “So, it’s been a great thing, and we’re anticipating greater things. It’s been a long process, but it’s finally come to a conclusion and we’re excited to hear what people have to say about it.”

The trees were acquired from Schichtel’s Nursery in Springville, and will be maintained throughout the year by volunteers. VanRensselaer said Highway Superintendent Bob Finch arranged to have the trees watered with 50 gallons per tree during the spring, summer and early fall months.

In addition to tree restoration, VanRennselaer said several monuments, obelisks and headstones were in need of repair and, in some cases, replacement. Last year, the repair of more than 100 headstones and obelisks took place. VanRennselaer said the remaining repairs will be taking place shortly, and the entire project should ideally be completed next month.

Assisting VanRennselaer in the project’s fulfillment were: Dave Shelters; Mike Perkins; Jesse Bliven; Larry D. Geffers Jr.; Igor Bumbar; Eugene Greenman; and John Congdon, Randolph Cemetery Association president. Funds were used from a Chautauqua Region Community Foundation grant and the Edward McLaughlin Trust Community Foundation grant, as well as local donors.

VanRensselaer also acknowledged the role of William Schettine, owner of Meridien Energy and Signature Stallions, who donated his companies’ time and equipment to the project. He added that Schettine also put forth the funding for a separate drainage project at the cemetery, which will be addressed at a later date.