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Community came together for Macedonia

By Mike Duman

Macedonia Baptist Church, in Hobson Village, had a serious problem. The church cemetery, which dated back to circa 1890, was experiencing substantial erosion that threatened the integrity of numerous gravesites.

The situation had deteriorated to the extent that crypts had risen to the surface and were in danger of floating into the adjacent wooded area.

Members of the congregation formed a committee headed by James Townsell, Gladys Mills and John Thrower. Over the next several months federal, state and local agencies were contacted for financial assistance and advice.

Concerned citizens and church members, with assistance from inmates at the Western Tidewater Regional Jail, participated in a clean-up of the cemetery and adjoining property.

During this time Aaron Ketchum, executive vice president for Blair Bros. Construction, became aware of this issue and approached William and Richard Blair about the feasibility of offering the company’s services to correct this situation.

Ketchum received immediate approval and subsequently contacted church representatives and expressed the company’s willingness to help.

In September a meeting was arranged on site with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Suffolk city staff, church members and Blair Bros. Construction.

During the meeting, these parties collaborated on how to proceed within regulated guidelines, considered suggestions and discussed resources. Most importantly, Blair Bros. confirmed its willingness to perform extensive remediation at no expense.

This week, Blair Bros. Construction, under the supervision of project manager Jon Hlinovsky, honored its commitment. Approximately 14 graves were temporarily moved to allow for under drains, back filling, rip-rap, topsoil and hydro-seeding.

Blair Bros. met and far exceeded the level and quality of work that could have been expected. They did not expend their time and resources in expectation of publicity or future financial gain. Altruism such as this by local Suffolk businesses often goes unnoticed and unheralded. I thank them for their help.

The Macedonia Cemetery Restoration has a GoFundMe account on the Internet that has had approximately 100 generous donors who have contributed more than $11,000. These funds can be used for further beautification, maintenance and improvements.

Situations like this affirm our faith in the decency of our citizens and the ability to accomplish tremendous good with cooperation and resolve.

I am proud to be a Suffolkian and honored to represent the Chuckatuck Borough.

Mike Duman represents the Chuckatuck Borough on Suffolk City Council. Email him at mike.duman@mikeduman.com.