FARMINGTON — A proposed plan to clean up the Red Schoolhouse Cemetery in the spring has taken on a life of its own.

As word spread about the plan for Farmington Wal-Mart employees to clean up and adopt the cemetery, more people wanted to help and be involved, store Manager Greg Patterson told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday.

Some board members said they were interested in donating “sweat equity” to the project in the spring as they unanimously accepted the offer.

The cemetery is next to the Wal-Mart property and needs some brush removed along a bordering rock wall, Patterson said. Some gravestones are missing. Some have toppled over.

Patterson proposed that Wal-Mart employees volunteer for the work, adopt the cemetery as a project and help the town maintain it, he said. The employees are pretty excited about it and are volunteering, he said. But help also has been offered by veterans groups, E.L. Vining & Son and Wiles Funeral Home. 

Patterson was talking about it recently at an Augusta function when first lady Ann LePage said she’d like to help, too, he said.

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Three Revolutionary War veterans have marked graves in the cemetery, Patterson said. Research by Don Simoneau of Fayette and Charles Bennett of Farmington indicate seven more veterans are buried there, but their stones are gone or have sunk into the ground. They believe they are veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812 and the Civil War, Patterson said. Many graves date back to the early 1800s.

Once the research is done, the federal government will provide gravestones at no expense, said Bennett, vice chairman of the Veterans Memorial Cemetery Association.

Patterson would like benches and a cemetery sign added, and perhaps a partial fence on the front as the cemetery used to have.

“We want to make it look nice and clean it up,” he said.

Employees can receive funding from the Walmart Foundation for hours volunteered to the community, he said. The funding goes to help the project.

Selectmen wanted Patterson to document the scope of the work, including who did what.

The town mows the cemetery and provides regular maintenance but not brush removal, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

The work is expected to begin after snow melts in the spring. A ceremony to celebrate the work will probably take place around Memorial Day, Patterson said.

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