Volunteers rebuild Oak Hill Cemetery in New Hartford - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Volunteers rebuild Oak Hill Cemetery in New Hartford

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by Danielle Wagner

NEW HARTFORD (KWWL) Oak Hill Cemetery was a mess after the tornado on May 25, 2008.

"There wasn't a stone left standing. Everything was gone. I guess we had 35 to 40, 60 to 70 foot tall spruce trees--every one gone. It was a barren landscape," said Bob Dickson.

A group of citizens formed the "Oak Hill Cemetery Foundation" to rebuild a focal point of the community.

Bob Dickson is the president of the foundation.

"I've lived out here now 21 years. This is the heart and soul of the community," he said.

Dickson, other foundation members and numerous volunteers are repairing Oak Hill Cemetery-- one stone and one tree--at a time.

"We want to make sure everything's in the right place. We want to straighten them out. We want it to be a first class looking cemetery," said Dickson.

The community also received help from complete strangers.

"We had a guy, I'll mention his name, David Childs from New Hartford, Connecticut and he called me one day and he wanted to know if he could help and I said to myself we're gonna get lucky. We're gonna get a check for $100. He went to his church, civic organizations, schools, people on the street. He flew out here on his own expense and brought us a check for $10,000," said Dickson.

Dickson said the goal is to maintain aspects of the old cemetery, but to also bring it up-to-date. There's a new archway and flagpole, with plans for solar power lights and benches to sit on.

Dickson said with a little time and patience, Oak Hill Cemetery will once again be the "heart" of New Hartford.

"I guarantee you a year from now this is going to look totally different," said Dickson.

If you'd like to contribute to repair the cemetery, you can send money to: Oak Hill Cemetery Foundation, care of State Bank & Trust of New Hartford, P.O. Box 312, New Hartford, Iowa 50660.

On May 25th the town of New Hartford will have its annual Memorial Day Parade at 9:30 a.m. The parade ends at Oak Hill Cemetery and will be followed by a re-dedication of the cemetery with special guest Senator Charles Grassley of New Hartford.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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