Seven years into the making, the Williams Cemetery fence project was completed as dozens of community members attended a special dedication ceremony last Saturday.
“The idea of new fencing was the inspiration of Karen and Wayne Wilson, who provided a substantial first donation in March of 2010,” said Dawn Nissen, Williams Cemetery District Office Manager.
Since then, the project has raised $47,773, with 351 donations made by private donations and memorial contributions.
“Wow, isn’t that impressive!” said Nissen.
The design was developed, and the Cemetery Board of Trustees decided that they would construct their own fence panels.
“We wanted panels made from heavy gauge steel with quality powder coating to stand the test of time,” said Nissen. “We weren’t finding what we wanted.”
A panel kit was fabricated, and materials for the panels were ordered in batches when funds were available.
“The generous donation of labor in constructing the panels was provided by Morning Star Packing,” said Nissen. “They saw that each of these batches of panels and sections were welded up and ready for powder coating. The instillation of the panels was completed by the cemetery staff, and by groundskeeper Gino Hackett.”
As each panel was constructed, and installed the project was getting closer and closer to completion.
“When we rounded the corner on the Zumwalt Road Frontage, we designed and constructed an archway,” said Nissen. “We had volunteer help from many.”
In recent years, the Cemetery District has been focused on rehabilitation and beautification of its cemetery grounds. The fence project was developed to replace the old, deteriorating fence. Additionally, several aged and hazardous trees were removed.
“When we made these improvements, our desire was to develop a haven of peace and serenity for those who come pay respect to their loved ones,” said Nissen.
As the cemetery moves forward onto its next project, cemetery officials hope they will continue to see the strong and generous support from the community.
“We have planted a hedge row on the north border in lieu of fencing,” said Nissen. “Our next goal is to use continued donations for the purchase and installation of benches throughout the cemetery.”
Nissen added that many cemeteries often operate on a tight budget, and the Williams Cemetery was not different.
“We are proud of the improvements we have made to our cemetery,” said Nissen. “The cemetery board members are well aware that we operate on a limited budget and they are always looking for the best way to utilize funds.”
Nissen highlighted some of the improvements made to the cemetery grounds.
“We’ve built a restroom, a new office, and shop building; improved the old shop building; developed and constructed a cremation niche area; and purchased the equipment necessary to operate in an efficient and safe manner,” said Nissen. “More recently we have installed a solar power system to alleviate power costs. We have a large amount of power consumption from the pumping of the wells for irrigation.”
Nissen added that many of the improvements wouldn’t have been possible without the head groundskeeper, Gino Hackett.
“Gino always gives 110%,” said Nissen. “His pride in the cemetery and his compassion for the families he serves is always above and beyond. He is the backbone of the Williams Cemetery District.”
Williams Cemetery District board member, Nancy Wayman, reiterated Nissen’s statement about Hackett and added there was a second community member to be recognized.
“I just have to say that all that Dawn does is amazing,” said Wayman. “But the person she is leaving out, the one that helps finish up a project or is there to help us out is Dawn’s husband, John.”
Following the ceremony, the monument was unveiled.
“It is with grateful hearts that we share with you today, the monument is dedicated to those who have donated to the panel sections,”
As the monument was reviled the crowd was in awe. “That’s beautiful,” one crowd member bellowed.
The monument crafted out of ornamental rock and granite contained the names of those who contributed to the memorial fence fund and a recognition statement and a quote from Benamin Franklin, “Show me your cemeteries and I will tell you what kind of people you have.”
“I want to thank everyone who came out on the hot summer afternoon, to dedicate the fence which has been built around our cemetery,” said Williams Cemetery board member, Nancy Wayman. “This is the best thing that has ever happened to this cemetery.”■