That’s Fort Dodge for you

Volunteers tackle overgrowth at Memorial Park Cemetery, before, after and during Memorial Day

Another of example of Fort Dodge rising to the challenge stood front and center this week when volunteers using their own equipment mowed and trimmed the Fort Dodge Memorial Park Cemetery.

It is one thing to complain about a problem.

It’s the Fort Dodge way to take action.

Dismayed by the overgrown conditions at the perpetual care cemetery, volunteers started mowing.

In fact, they were out there Monday, on Memorial Day, putting their goodwill to good use by attacking what, in some places, was at least 10-inch-tall grass.

It’s unclear how many volunteers worked at the cemetery at 3242 Fifth Ave. S. At least four riding mowers and a handful of push mowers and string trimmers were used.

“The people of Fort Dodge stepped up and solved a problem,” said David Powell, a Fort Dodge man who spent a couple hours mowing on Monday.

In the dry days leading up to Memorial Day, visitors to the cemetery observed tall grass that nearly reached their knees and obscured the flat headstones.

“It was overgrown everywhere, but where people mowed their own plots,” said Mary Rose Schmieder, of Fort Dodge.

The site is classified as a perpetual care cemetery. Maintenance of a perpetual care cemetery is paid for from a trust fund in which the owner is required to deposit a specified amount of revenue.

That is another issue. According to the city of Fort Dodge and the Iowa Insurance Division, the owner has not met the responsibilities before him and, therefore, will likely lose the place in an administrative process.

That is unfortunate, and we could get stuck on the failures that led to a cemetery looking more like a native prairie. But what possible good would that do?

Bradley Edgerton, of Fort Dodge, initially used social media to call on people to help out at the cemetery because he felt they were “complaining, but not doing.”

“I just decided I’d issue a challenge,” he said.

He posted his challenge online on Saturday.

Edgerton said he spent four to five hours at the cemetery Sunday and another four hours on Monday. He said he didn’t expect anyone else to actually show up.

He said he was “shocked” by the number of people who showed up.

“I was proud to be a native of Fort Dodge,” he said.

Powell said he “decided I could go out and do my share out of respect to the people who are buried there.”

After working with his push mower on the cemetery’s east side for a couple hours Monday morning, he went to Walmart and asked a store manager if they would donate a new American flag for the cemetery.

“I did work there a while and I know they did this kind of stuff,” he said.

He said the manager gave him “their best flag.”

When Powell got back to the cemetery with the new flag, he found more people working there.

“I thought, that’s Fort Dodge for you,” he said.

We agree.

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