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Ky. group works to repair cemetery monuments

BANDANA — Betty Johnson's passion for preserving historical cemeteries started with her visits to Mount Pleasant Cemetery where her loved ones are buried in Ballard County.

"I was sitting out here day after day," she told The Paducah Sun. "I know a lot of people buried out here. After a while, I really started to look around, and noticed how the monuments had deteriorated."

Johnson, of Kevil, founded MOUNT (Many Old Unique Needy Tombstones) Inc. in December. The mission of the group's 14 members is to preserve and restore historic cemeteries.

"We've got to remember these are our loved ones, not just people," she said. "Some of these monuments are beautiful. People cared and I want people today to care before they are gone and we can't read them anymore."

The group has identified about 200 deteriorating markers from the 1800s and early 1900s, with the help of George Bell of John W. Bell Monument Works in Cairo, Ill. Members plan to work this spring to clean and repair the monuments under the supervision of Bell, who charges a small fee.

MOUNT will host a workshop on April 18 at the Ballard County Chamber of Commerce to teach the procedures to clean a tombstone and provide information about the state's cemetery laws. Donations are also needed to help maintain the monuments.