Hiram resident calls attention to unkempt veterans gravestones

Hiram Village Council met Tuesday to hear village resident Ann Patella’s concern about the state of veterans’ gravesites in Fairview Cemetery.

There are almost two dozen veterans’ graves Patella could not even find, as well as issues with missing flag markers. She said she has been working with the city, but “in my opinion it’s a mess.”

She said about one-fifth of the 250 veterans’ graves have some kind of problem, but she acknowledged dealing with them and maintaining the ones that are in good shape is too big a job for any one person.

The problem is not unique to the Village of Hiram, she acknowledged.

The Village of Hiram has a tradition of reading veterans’ names aloud during its annual Memorial Day ceremony at Fairview. Patella noted that because some of the names are mispronounced, council may consider not reading the final roll call. Village Mayor Lou Bertrand balked at that suggestion. It is a profoundly meaningful way to honor servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives in service of the county, and it is unique to the Village of Hiram.

“No other community does it,” he said.

Council members Robert Dempsey and Chris Szell supported reading the names, even if some are mispronounced. That settled, Mayor Bertrand said the names of veterans buried throughout the township as well as at Fairview will be read aloud.

With volunteers in short supply, Patella wondered if the city should continue its annual tradition of planting geraniums at each veteran’s grave.

“The problem is we pretty much can’t get anyone to volunteer anymore,” Bertrand said. “Maybe it’s a sign of the times.”

Council encourages people who attend the village’s Memorial Day ceremony at noon May 31 to bring trowels to help plant the flowers.

Crestwood High School’s band will perform at the cemetery, and there will be a speaker as well as a 1 p.m. reception at Hiram College’s Koritansky Hall, Bertrand said. Council approved up to $200 to cover reception costs.

Messy property on Plum Ridge

Council continued discussion about an unkempt property on Plum Ridge Drive, whose owners do not reside at the address or in Hiram. Bertand told council he spoke with the property owners about 10 days ago and asked them for a letter detailing their cleanup plans. So far, he said, there has been no response.

Village Solicitor Tom Reitz advised council not to take over the property, but to work through county courts to get an administrative search warrant to evaluate the property’s condition. If it is beyond help, the landowners would be notified and they would have to provide a timeline for bringing the property up to specs. If the property owners don’t act, the village could then take steps to raze the structure and clean up the property, Reitz said.

If the building has asbestos, that could complicate matters, Reitz cautioned. He supported charging the property owners with a minor misdemeanor, a legal maneuver that might finally get Miles’ and Texler’s attention.

Council did learn that Miles has contacted the village to restore water service at the property, though what that might lead to is unknown.

Beware Covid scams

Police Chief Brian Gregory cautioned residents not to fall for Covid-19 cure or injection clinic scams, which are coming through via texts, phone, e-mails, social media and any other way scammers can think of to reach people.

Rite-Aid in Garrettsville is an approved vaccination site, and it had vaccines available as of Tuesday morning, he said. Anyone who wants a vaccine may contact the pharmacy or access the official website at www.gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Fireworks and welcome signs

The village is finalizing plans for fireworks on July 2, as well as a parade and bike rodeo, which may or may not be the same day. If it is, the parade would end near the fireworks site, Hiram Fire Lt. Jason Groselle said.

Motorists entering the village will soon notice new welcome signs, lauding Hiram as the home of Hiram College and James A. Garfield, 20th president of the United States. The sign is not meant to disparage other important Hiram institutions such as Hiram Farm, which provides services for people with autism and other developmental disabilities, council members said.