The Grazing Ram: Funding Bodies Voice Support for Public Cemetery Maintenance Plan 


[Editor’s Note: Leo Mikkola-Patel is a junior at New Canaan High School. “The Grazing Ram” is his periodic column on New Canaanite.]

My previous article described a plan to encourage the town government to allocate funding for the appropriate maintenance of all public cemeteries. After writing that article, I saw the true power and beauty of town government. 

I reached out to many organizations and gathered the support of both the Daughters of the American Revolution and the VFW Post 653 . There was also broad community support for this project as evidenced by a petition with nearly 1,000 signatures. 

Working with the head of the Department of Public Works, Tiger Mann, administrative officer in the first selectman’s office, Tucker Murphy, VFW Post 653 Senior Commander Mike McGlinn and Danielle Edwards of the DAR, this month we presented to the Board of Finance and Town Council with the goal of garnering support and starting the process of creating an annual budget line for cemetery upkeep. 

McGlinn said during the Nov. 14 finance board meeting that “the VFW stands 100% behind this project” and that “one of the principles of the VFW is to honor and remember every veteran, alive or deceased.” 

The consensus was that this project is very possible but more work still needs to be done. Board of Finance Chair Todd Lavieri during the appointed body’s Nov. 14 meeting said that he agreed the town should identify a figure for getting the cemeteries back into good shape and “put it into the budget process.” The following night, Town Council member Kimberly Norton stated at the elected group’s regular meeting that “I think it is long overdue” and that she has “driven by cemeteries in Norwalk and Darien and I drive by some of ours and I say, ‘Why aren’t we doing the same thing?’ ”

This project will involve two parts. Part 1 is the one-time restoration and cataloging of all public cemeteries. Part 2 is the appropriate ongoing maintenance and landscaping of these graveyards. In talking with Mann, he stated that the annual cost of maintaining each cemetery will be around $2,000; this is a de minimus amount within the wider town budget.

The next step will involve establishing a formal inventory of cemeteries. This includes tallies of all headstones, including a specific count of broken headstones, reports of the state of each cemetery, and what work needs to be done. This work will not only help expedite the process but also provide much-needed data for the DPW and BOF on how much this will cost and what would be involved. Edwards said during the Nov. 14 Board of Finance meeting that many of these “massive gravestones have moved and been shifted by tree roots further than you could ever think a giant heavy piece of stone could be moved.”

For this stage of the project, I would like the support of not only local organizations but also members of the community. If you are a part of any of the following organizations or groups and your organization would like to help with this project, please contact me at

  • SLOBs
  • National Charity League
  • Boys and Girl Scouts

Also, if you are a local resident and would be interested in helping catalog/inventory a cemetery near you, please shoot me an email at the address above. 

New Canaanites, let’s do the right thing for our veterans and ancestors by properly maintaining and beautifying our cemeteries.

4 thoughts on “The Grazing Ram: Funding Bodies Voice Support for Public Cemetery Maintenance Plan 

  1. Bravo! I grew up in NC been with DAR chapter for 10 yrs proposed several yrs ago in an monthly meeting this very specific work project, when I attended a workshop in Plainville CT meeting the gentleman from Brooklyn a chemist who produced D2 removing naturally all debris from headstones. I laud this student & Kimberly Norton comments.

  2. Leo has done a terrific job identifying this situation and a plan to improve it. He also recognizes the benefit of having residents participate in improving our town. We will all benefit from these efforts.

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