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Maple Lawn Cemetery expected to get facelift

A 200-year-old cemetery will soon be receiving a much-needed facelift that will not only improve the facility’s looks, but also could prevent problems for its neighbor.
Dwight Treadway, president of Maple Lawn Cemetery, which sits on Highway 11-E next to the Washington County Detention Center, said the cemetery board has a plan in place that should alleviate traffic problems at the facility as well as put a stop to some environmental troubles it has faced in the past.
“It will solve our soil erosion problems and some storm water management issues we have,” Treadway said. “The ground at the cemetery slopes and there is a big bluff along the side where the county jail is. That has caused us some problems.”
According to Treadway, mud, grass and sediment from the cemetery have, in the past, gotten into the underground drainage system used by the neighboring county jail and, now, the adjacent justice center.
While Washington County jail officials said they haven’t had a problem with the sediment in two or three years now, Treadway believes being proactive will be better for all those involved.
“If we clog up their drainage system, then we both have problems,” Treadway said. “The best thing for us to do is try to get in front of this problem and hold off the erosion issues altogether.”
As a part of the improvement project, intersections within the nearly 200-year-old cemetery will be paved and traffic signs installed to appropriately direct traffic within its boundaries. The project, which also will include the planting of a large amount of vegetation, is expected to take two years to complete.
“We’ve got enough money right now to give us a good start,” Treadway said, acknowledging an estimated $75,000 currently in the bank for the project. “But we will have to do a fundraising campaign to keep it going. You can’t do much without some money.”
While the potential soil erosion problem is one of the main reasons for the improvements, Treadway said the project will also help draw people to the cemetery.
“A person is not going to come over to Maple Lawn Cemetery, if it looks like a garbage dump, and buy plots for family members,” he said. “So it’s always important for us to focus on the beautification process at the cemetery.”
Treadway hopes the facelift also will encourage more people to visit the 15-acre cemetery to learn about the area’s history.
”There’s more historic significance to this cemetery than people realize,” Treadway said. “There are some very interesting stories in this cemetery. A lot of Jonesborough’s history lies in there.”
In addition, the board is working to build a state-of-the-art website for Maple Lawn Cemetery that will map out and label each of the hundreds of headstones on the property and even document what each stone says.
“We’ve got a lot of things we want to do and they are all doable,” Treadway said. “Now it’s just a matter of implementation.”