Volunteers take care of abandoned Centralia cemetery

A long-neglected cemetery in Centralia is finally getting some much needed repairs and respect.

The group of volunteers behind the work say the people buried there deserve much better.

"There's just a lot of history here for this community," said Jason Baker, who was painting a concrete bench at Greenwood Memorial Park, Saturday.

The cemetery dates back to the late 1800's, but it wasn't until the last decade when it fell into disrepair. The owner and caretakers got caught up in legal problems and could no longer maintain the property.

"Now no one's in charge," said Christina Sivewright, who has become an unofficial caretaker of the space.

From the standpoint of state regulators, the cemetery is considered abandoned.

"I have over 50 family members buried here 6 generations and I can't walk away," said Sivewright, who has been coming to the park on weekends, cleaning it up herself.

On Saturday she got some much-needed help from a group of volunteers. They've organized about a dozen of the work parties in recent years.

"This is a band aid, what we're doing right now is a short term fix, but it's what we can do so we're doing it," said Sivewright, who hopes a non-profit might be able to take over the duties. She'd also like to see a new owner hire a full-time caretaker.

Until then, families of those who rest at the cemetery depend on the volunteers.

"You want to make it a nice place for them to come and honor their relatives," said Baker.


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