Dayton cemetery receives grant to aid in tornado recovery

A Year of Recovery

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A local cemetery damaged by the Memorial Day tornadoes is getting a helping hand thanks to a $5,000 grant through the state’s first ever Cemetery Grant Fund.

The scars from the tornado are still apparent, as spots still show where century-old trees were ripped out of the ground, and some memorials still lie on the ground, torn from their designated spot.

“We have 17 more monuments to put back in place,” said Mark Davis, the General Manager of the Dayton Memorial Park and Cemetery.

But it’s already a stark contrast from the morning after Memorial Day.

“Our new maintenance building lost a roof,” said Davis. “We had 200 monuments blow over flat, and about 100 trees were either blown down or broken up so bad, they had to come down or will have to come down.”

On Thursday, state and local leaders gathered at the N. Dixie location to celebrate the very first check presentation of the first ever Cemetery Grant fund.

“They wrote an incredibly inspiring proposal,” said Anne Petit, Ohio’s Superintendent of Real Estate and Professional Licensing. “This fund will help plant new trees, take down those that were damaged, reset memorials and headstones that were damaged or blown over by the tornadoes.”

The Dayton Memorial Park and Cemetery is one of 65 cemeteries in the state to receive a part of the $75,357.

In a release from the Ohio Department of Commerce, it described the fund as ‘defraying the costs of exceptional cemetery maintenance or training cemetery personnel in the maintenance and operation of a cemetery.’

It was made possible after Representative Dick Stein (R-Norwalk) introduced House Bill 168 in March 2017, which included the Cemetery Grant Fund, which passed into law and became effective Oct. 29, 2018.

Petit said it will now become an annual grant that will help nonprofit cemeteries that show a specific need.

“They’re struggling to have the funds to, in some cases, even mow or fix potholes in their driveways,” said Petit.

Dayton Memorial Park and Cemetery matched the $5,000, and Davis said they received a Small Business Administration disaster loan, so altogether they will have $35,000 for repairs and replanting trees.

This was one of three cemeteries in Montgomery County to receive the grant money, but only one of two statewide to receive $5,000.

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