Dozens of volunteers participated in a clean-up day Saturday at the Odd Fellows Cemetery in downtown Sonora.
Members of the Odd Fellows Sonora lodge joined the volunteers as they raked, weeded and picked up trash around the cemetery. More than 80 graves have been adopted since the launch of the lodge's "Adopt-a-Grave" program, which was promoted by the organization at Saturday's event, said Denine Urquhart, lodge member and cemetery trustee.
"People were out here before we even got here," Urquhart said, adding that the lodge has also welcomed three new members since word got out about the clean-up program.
In recent years, before the program's launch, maintenance of the cemetery has fallen solely on the club's seven active members. That's made it difficult for the organization to maintain the cemetery, which was established in 1856 and is the final resting place for several early pioneers and prominent citizens, including renowned attorney and Sonora native Melvin Belli.
Vandals have added to the lodge's troubles by spray-painting graffiti, kicking over headstones and leaving trash strewn about the cemetery.
For the complete story, see the May 5, 2014, edition of The Union Democrat.