ABERDEEN – After what Ward 2 Alderman Wilchie Clay describes as a push that’s taken more than 20 years, Oddfellows East Cemetery has been cleaned up to the maintenance standards it used have when the city’s former cemetery department used to mow it.
“There’s a lot of praise coming from the community for this mayor and board for doing something about it to take care of it,” Clay said. “It was really, really embarrassing when people would come from out of town and come to me complaining about it.”
The board of aldermen voted to adjudicate the property in July after a public hearing was scheduled for the condition of the property owned by Doris Morton Blanchard, who was not present. Blanchard had told the city to not maintain the cemetery since it is private property.
Aldermen awarded the cleanup job in August to Jerome Foard, who presented the low bid of $2,500 for a one-time cleanup. With the city’s adjudication process, the cemetery can be cleaned up 12 times in a two-year period. Foard is also contracted by the city to maintain the city’s other cemeteries, Oddfellows West, Lawndale and the Old Aberdeen Cemetery.
According to city building official David Low, the cost of maintenance on adjudicated properties is passed back on to property taxes after the work is completed.
“Most people in Aberdeen are proud to see this happening. When people come to Oddfellows West and look across the Oddfellows East, they’ve asked why in the world was this not cleaned up. It was always referred to as the white cemetery and the colored cemetery. I felt it was inappropriate to refer to the cemeteries by color. I felt it would be better to call them Oddfellows West and Oddfellows East,” said of action taken by the board of aldermen in the 1990s during a previous term he held.