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MY WORD: Monumental fun can make a big difference

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By Bonnie Burks Gray

In communities across the nation, cemeteries are dying.
That’s what happens when the living fail to honor, preserve and restore their local cemeteries. It’s also the result when cemetery boards fail to keep the cemetery alive and vital by investing in surrounding property for the future and providing opportunities for the living to honor and preserve the resting place of the dead.
Grove Hill Cemetery in the center of Shelby County is alive and well.
The diagnosis for its future is excellent. Grove Hill’s leadership is investing in tomorrow so that our children’s children, and their children’s children and beyond will have a beautiful resting place to care for their loved ones.
It’s a monumental time in the life of Grove Hill, and you’re invited to be a part of it. The cemetery’s board has launched an auxiliary group, Friends of Grove Hill, to help keep this precious jewel of Shelby County a uniquely wonderful respite for the living to cherish. Friends of Grove Hill are championing her beauty, dignity and unique preservation role in the life of our community. The things you cherish most – its tranquility, respect and respectfulness, history, trees and solemn purpose – are assured of enduring into the future through the support of good friends.
The group has four fundamental goals:
Encourage community support by giving back educational programs.
Grow and protect the arboretum.
Restore, preserve and protect the history, monuments & buildings.
Exist for future generations to use, enjoy and cherish.
Although we hope you will, you don’t have to join Friends of Grove Hill to make a difference in the life of the cemetery. Your participation in its projects and programs keeps the cemetery vital and vibrant.
Whether you learn its mysteries by attending the variety of history tours hosted by Grove Hill Friends: Duanne Puckett and Mike Harrod, or donate a tree for the arboretum, there are lots of opportunities for you and your family to enjoy the cemetery and thus make a difference.
Grove Hill’s June project is especially designed for participants to have fun as they learn the proper techniques to restore monuments, techniques that preserve gravestones and can be used in family plots at other cemeteries or on ancestral graves tucked in the corner of a farm.
Love the beautiful inscriptions often found on old cemetery stones? Wish you could copy and frame the art engraved on your great grandfather’s stone? Can’t read the names on a family monument? Have a passion for helping others? Love history and want to preserve it?
This is the event you’ll want to attend: June 25-26, Friends of Grove Hill and the Cemetery Board, are hosting a 2-day monument preservation/restoration training and workshop that will help participants learn how to restore and preserve stones, do professional rubbings appropriate for framing or just for fun.
Starting 10 a.m. Saturday, the training will feature the knowledge/expertise of Ann Johnson*, Administrative Assistant with the Cemetery Preservation Program at the Kentucky Historical Society in Frankfort; Mark Brooks, Grove Hill superintendent; and local historians/preservationists: Wm. Whitie Gray and Harrod.
Not only will participants be trained and certified to do stone preservation through the Friends of Grove Hill, they will learn the latest, approved techniques by the Kentucky Historical Society for monument restoration plus tips and approved steps for doing stone rubbings as historical documentation or artwork.
On Sunday we will start at 1:30 p.m. to put Saturday’s training to use, actually restoring selected monuments that no longer have descendents able to preserve them. Trainees will also have an opportunity to do some rubbings of favorite inscriptions or engravings. Each day’s session will end when people are tired or ready to quit.   
 The seminar is $45 for adults and includes: certification for Grove Hill monument preservation; Saturday box lunch; refreshments; training materials and preservation tools. Students (junior high or older) accompanied with an adult are $10; couples $60.
People should contact Bonnie Burks Gray (502-633-6941) for more information or to make required reservations. The class is limited to 25 participants; enrollment deadline is June 22. If you cannot attend, consider sponsoring an interested young person to learn the importance of preserving our community cemeteries and the history they hold.  
Other summer events on the Grove Hill calendar:
Walk Across The Sky: July 15, 9 p.m. Introduction to the stars and their constellations, the planets and mysteries of the night skies. Handouts and refreshments. Starting at the chapel. Bring binoculars or telescopes and pallets or sleeping bags. Contact Bonnie Burks Gray, 502-633-6941, for more information or to make required reservations. Limited capacity – individuals: $15; couples: $25; families: $30 (first-graders or older).
Loony Photo Shoot – Full Moon & Shooting Stars: Aug. 13, 7 p.m.-midnight.  Bring your cameras, binoculars or telescopes and pallets or sleeping bags. Photo and stargazing tipsters will be on hand to help you with moon shots and Perseid meteor shower gazing. Refreshments. Limited capacity. Individuals: $15; couples: $25; families: $30 (first-graders or older). Contact Bonnie Burks Gray, 502-633-6941, for more information or to make required reservations.
 
*Shelby County Community Theatre patrons may recognize Ann Johnson’s name. The award- winning actress has been a favorite of local theatergoers for nearly 30 years. Some of her most popular roles include the florist in Christmas Belles and the mother in ….and The Tide Shall Cover the Earth. She is currently in rehearsal for Cinderella.

Bonnie Burks Gray lives in Shelbyville.