Greetings from the Cortland Rural Cemetery: Having just completed our 2014 Fiscal Year (which ends Oct 31), it’s time for my annual update to our lot holders, friends, volunteers, and other supporters on how we performed at the CRC this year. As you read through our sizable list of accomplishments, I hope you’ll be struck as I was by an ironic truth, which has since become a guiding principle for me and your Board of Trustees: In order for us to provide our community’s deceased with a beautiful and well‐maintained place to rest ‐‐ we, the living, must be very much in motion! FY’14 accomplishments – all of which enhanced our aesthetics, improved our operations, or raised our public awareness (and thus, support!) Established the Cultural Council of Cortland County headquarters in our under‐utilized Superintendent’s House – This unique partnership of two, community orgs makes both stronger: The CCCC now has a lasting and unique home for its gallery (now dubbed “The Vault”) and cultural programming – while the CRC attracts new visitors and receives a modest amount of rent to help with operational expenses. Operation Greenspace! to‐dos about 75% complete! Including a new main entrance sign; new map kiosk frame (the map will be in position this spring); 69 new, metal section markers to replace our rickety, easily broken wooden signs; fencing for our two, new water stations; ‘cemetrail’ informational signs (now under development), with scholarly help from some awesome SUNY Cortland students and professors; 300 trees ID’d and counted, plus 30 major tree species tagged with informational signs (thanks, Dr. Broyles!)… All of this funded by the JM McDonald Foundation! Two, new Kubota mowers – self‐funded, with help from trade‐in VenTrac mowers and 0% financing from Empire Tractor. (Yes, after a bidding process, we purchased them locally, contributing to the local economy in our small way!) We also purchased a used Kubota tractor on CraigsList and had a new, small Husqvana mower donated for lighter duties. First ever theater production at the cemetery – With financial help from Cortland’s noon Rotary Club, we produced Bill Whiting’s Tioughnioga River th Anthology under a giant tent on September 27 . Co‐directed by Ben Wells and Scott Gay, the production featured terrific community actors from the Trope Troupe at the United Presbyterian Church and student actors from Cortland High Theatre! (Missed the performance? You can still watch entire show on YouTube, accessed from the CRC website.) New funeral tent and casket lowering device – funded by a very generous grant from the congregation of the United Presbyterian Church, we are once again able to offer these services to families for burials and memorial services. (Not unimportantly, their availability returns to us an otherwise missed albeit modest revenue stream.) 9 Sands Street improvements included a new, desperately needed sidewalk and driveway apron (funded in part by the City’s sidewalk program); stump removals, donated by our wonderful neighbors Joy and Steve Mosher; and continued improvements to the backyard area used for cemetery ‘waste.’ (Per usual, thanks to the City’s DPW for its help, too!) Two parking signs for the physically disabled installed by our office. This is just the beginning of a new initiative we’re launching in order to voluntarily comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. (See page 2.) Completed our “Save the Slate” campaign and office/garage roofing project – Thanks to gifts from both CRC boards, some very generous individuals, a Trustee‐approved allocation of $5000 from our emergency fund, and grants from the Cortland Community Foundation, Ralph R. Wilkins Foundation, and the Pumpkinfest committee – we installed a $30,000+ copper system on our historic office/garage complex. 2nd Cemetery Sweep‐Out Day – Ahead of Memorial Day 2014, over 40 people spent a Saturday morning raking, picking up trash, and doing other grounds work – with special thanks to our sponsor, the Crown City Rollerz. (A new corporate sponsor is needed for 2015: If interested, give us a call!) Native plantings around the CRC office donated by our good friend Valarie Gallagher, whose family ran the cemetery for decades! Thanks also to Trustees Adrianne Traub and Pat Place for species selection and help with these plantings.) New awning, cement ramp, electric circuit work, solar light, and refinished door on the Gibson Chapel. Through the CRC Foundation, the estate of our beloved friend Margaret Gibson funded these aesthetic and safety‐ enhancing improvements on the west entrance to our chapel/mausoleum. (Special thanks to Trustee Bob Morris!) First‐ever “Cemetery Art Show” – funded with a grant from CNYArts and, once again, the noon Rotary Club, this event featured cemetery‐inspired artwork from community artists of all ages and backgrounds. The work was exhibited in the CCCC’s Vault Gallery from Sept 5th through October 3rd. New energy on the staffing and volunteer front as we welcomed new cemetery manager Jeff Briggs, grounds‐men Ron Hayes and Mark Bregard, and volunteer‐supervisor Lonnie Pittsley. (Lonnie did a great job leading the great folks who joined us from CortlandWorks and Alternatives to Incarceration.) Donated vehicles included a “new” used pick‐up truck from the Town of Cortlandville and a Trustee‐donated Honda Element. Both of these vehicles ease grounds‐crew trips up/down “the hill” (this equates to less wear and tear on our mowers); they also allow us to lead funeral processions with dignity (which was not the case when we had to use a tractor for this!) Continued aggressive outreach with presentations to multiple church groups and clubs; both donated and paid advertising; and lots of cheap online awareness building. If you haven’t seen our website, FaceBook page (now with 731 “Likes”), or official Wikipedia page – please give them a look! Interior improvements to the cemetery office. Now that our office roof has been fixed, we’re turning our attention to re‐doing our public restrooms and, with $$$ help from CRC Foundation and Ralph R. Wilkins Foundation, will soon re‐do our decades‐old flooring. Both projects make a better, more professional impression on grieving families, customers (who do shop for burial options these days), visitors, and even employees. Kindly continue >>> Whew! That’s a lot of good news for one year, but of course there is always more to be done. Here’s what we have on our agenda for 2015 – noting that all of these activities either directly or indirectly help us do a better job in maintaining the CRC, attracting new customers, and securing financial support from individuals, foundations, and municipalities who know a vital, successful non‐profit when they see one! Looking ahead to 2015: ADA compliance – It’s personally troubling to me, and to our Board, that our 160+ year old institution has not yet made accommodations for the physically disabled. And so, noting that such steps are technically “voluntary,” are not required by our regulating body at the NYS level, and will require some not insignificant hurdle‐jumping in terms of code compliance and Historic Commission review ‐‐ we will nonetheless embark this year on a plan to render our office and Super’s House wheelchair‐accessible and alter one of our restrooms to make it ADA‐compliant. Operation Greenspace! (Phase 2) – This Spring, a ribbon cutting will mark the opening of our new “cemetrails” (complete with trail map, 20 educational interpretive signs, and tree‐markers). But concurrent to that, we will kick‐off a second phase of our Operation Greenspace! initiative, with these goals: o establish ‘green’ productivity stations behind our Sands Street house (e.g.: wood chipping, composting, dirt‐sifting) to reduce and reuse our operation’s waste; o continue work on our budding ‘arboretum’ (including a public campaign to plant 70 new, native species…please contact us to learn how you can sponsor one of them!) o establish a pollination or herb garden in the front yard of our 9 Sands Street house; o purchase and deploy bird boxes and other amenities useful to birders. Additional cultural activities – In addition to one or two joint “art” related efforts with the CCCC this year, we intend to host a modest concert series (aka: “Songs in the Cemetery”) into the Gibson Chapel sometime this year. Stay tuned; pun intended. Roof repair on Super’s House – Having replaced all of the copper on our office/garage (thereby extending the life of that slate roof for many years to come), we’re looking to do the same for our Superintendent’s House roof. The approximate cost will be $11,000 vs. the $30,000+ we invested in our office roof this last summer. Dangerous monument repair project – This winter, our cemetery supervisor, Jeff Briggs, will be completing a formidable application to the NYS Division of Cemeteries for additional headstone‐righting dollars. This project will fix 30 falling or already fallen markers that are both unsightly and pose a risk to ground‐crew members and the public. Angel Society launch! – Last year our fundraising allies at the CRC Foundation formed the Angel Society to promote support of the CRC through major gifts and legacy/estate giving. This year, you will see the roll out of the Society’s, including an inaugural event to be held on May 17th, 2015! That sums up this year’s look backward – and forward – for the CRC. I hope you are as encouraged as I am by this forward momentum. I hope you will take this opportunity to get involved with, or lend your financial support to, our new projects. And, finally, I hope you continue to appreciate the importance of keeping the CRC operating and beautiful for many years to come! John Hoeschele President, CRC Board of Trustees PS: All donations will be welcome and put to good use… From $50 for ‘general operations,’ to $500 for our ADA project, to $5000 (which will secure your place as an inaugural member of the CRC Foundation’s new “Angel Society”)!
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