Patrons seeking support for Mary's Chapel
Efforts are underway to gather funds for Mary's Chapel Cemetery. As area residents continue to feel the crunch of a sluggish economy, so too do those organizations and entities which rely upon financial support from local patrons.
In the case of Mary's Chapel, funds for the site have fallen to the point where the cemetery association is having difficulties meeting the cost of routine upkeep. According to trustee James Turner, the association was forced to cash out its last certificate of deposit (CD) in order to pay fees accumulated for general upkeep, such as moving and trimming. The CD had not reached maturity when funds were taken, resulting in a penalty which reduced the value down from its $1,000 potential. The funds were used to pay $865 in upkeep costs, using up nearly all available monies.
"This year, we've just run out of funds," Turner said. "We have some money in a perpetual fund that was set up for the cemetery, but we can only use the interest from that. That's the way it was set up and we can't change it. Of course, interest rates are low right now, so the money from that is down, too."
In order to increase funding for Mary's Chapel, the cemetery association has adopted new policies at the site. The association is asking families with loved ones buried at the cemetery for an annual $10 fee to help cover the expense of maintaining the cemetery. Turner hopes funds generated through this fee, in addition to the purchase cost of $100 per burial plot, will help the association raise the $1,800 to $2,200 needed for annual upkeep costs moving forward.
The association also is planning a yard sale and bake sale July 21 at the site of the former Western Auto on Main Street in Rector. Additionally, an account has been created at Regions Bank for the Mary's Chapel Cemetery Association where those interested in making donations may do so.
"Any love offering or donation is greatly appreciated," Turner said.
All funds received by the cemetery association go toward the upkeep of Mary's Chapel.
According to Turner, Mary's Chapel received its name from Mary Copeland, who is believed to have been the first person buried in the cemetery in the 1800s.
The cemetery began as an extension of the Methodist church located at the site. The church would later move to Paragould, leaving the cemetery in a state of disrepair until members of the local community stepped in to oversee maintenance. The church gave the property to the community in the 1960s.