Delaware Forced To Take Control Of Cemetery After More Than 100 Years

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The Oak Grove Cemetery Board said it has no choice but to call it quits and hand ownership to the city of Delaware.

There are approximately 20,000 people buried at the cemetery, including Frank Willis who once served as Ohio Governor and U.S. Senator. The parents of President Rutherford B. Hayes, a former Miss America and the first sheriff of Delaware County.

The deed from 1906 includes a reverter clause. If the board dissolves, ownership must be returned to the city.

"We enjoyed working with the cemetery and the people and the public, but we want to maintain the cemetery. We don't want it to deteriorate, and we can't afford it," said Roger Van Sickle, President of Oak Grove Board of Directors.

From maintaining the grounds to repairing the roadways, Van Sickle said that it costs about $130,000 to maintain and operate the cemetery.

That's a cost the city will now have to pick up.

"It's something we did not plan for, but something we will have to prepare for and that is what we are doing right now," said Lee Yoakum.

From gravestones to roadways, the 80 acre cemetery is in need of repair. Yoakum said the city may have to hire people to get the work done.

"Right now, we are looking at which departments will have a say in the operation," added Yoakum.

The city is now looking for ways to pay for the piece of history while still paying respect to the memory of those who are buried there.

The city is in the process of creating a fund to pay for the cemetery. It will officially assume operation November 1.

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