When Sugar-Salem-Moody Cemetery District cemetery officials started their April fundraising campaign to buy a new irrigation system, they wondered if anyone would donate.
“There was one day when we said ‘Are we going to get $100?’ Then we got all this money pouring in. Joyce and I just sat down and cried,” said Elaine King who with the cemetery's secretary/treasurer, Joyce Cromar, is helping to raise money for the cemetery's irrigation system.
Currently, $40,000 has been donated for the irrigation system that’s expected to cost around $50,000. The funds received so far will allow the cemetery district to have Golden West Irrigation install the new irrigation system by the first of June.
The cemetery board has received donations ranging from $5 to $7,000. Band-Aid efforts to patch the cemetery’s aging irrigation system came to a screeching halt recently, Cromar said.
“We have babied it along the last five years. Every couple of weeks, it’s cost us $1,000 to keep it going. They finally said they weren’t going to come out and fix it anymore. They said ‘It wasn’t worth fixing.’ We said ‘OK, it’s time for a new one,” Cromar said.
The cemetery is its own taxing district and receives some funds from the county. The cemetery board also earns money by selling gravesites. The money is just enough to cover the sexton’s salary, Cromar said.
While the cemetery district board is grateful for all the donations it’s received, it's still hoping to raise the additional funding, she said.
“We’re still needing about $10,000, if not more. There are other things we have to do out there. We have to finish developing some land for more graves. We have to get a new shed built because our shed isn’t big enough to hold everything. We need to put up a whole new fence,” Cromar said.
The cemetery board would also like to eventually add an entryway into the cemetery and also wants to someday pave the cemetery’s roads, she said.
“We need $20,000 to do that. When we look at anything (to fix), it’s major bucks,” Cromar said.
The recently donated money has come from throughout the community, she said.
Some have come from people who don’t have burial plots out there. There’s been donations from a few businesses, Cromar said.
Any size donation is greatly appreciated, she said.
“I’m just overwhelmed by it all. I can’t even begin to express it. There’s no words to explain how wonderful it is,” she said. “The community stepped up to the plate and is helping the cemetery. It doesn’t matter how much somebody pays, it’s just that they have come and given what they can give. A $5 or $1 donation — it’s just overwhelming to me that they can do that.”
The cemetery is home to about 5,000 graves, and is the burial site of everyone from Upper Valley pioneers to 9-11 victim Brady Howell who died while serving in the Pentagon.
Many of those who have donated toward the irrigation fund have family and friends buried at the cemetery, said cemetery board member Lawrence Nielson.
“Family members want the place to look nice. It gives you a little more pride in the cemetery where your family members are buried. You know that somebody is taking care of the cemetery,” he said.
Sugar City Mayor Steve Adams said he was impressed that the cemetery board managed to raise the funds in a short period of time.
“It’s nice that the community stepped forward like that. I was surprised. That’s a lot of money to raise very quickly,” he said.
Those interested in donating toward the cemetery may send checks or money orders to the Sugar-Salem-Moody Cemetery c/o Joyce Cromar, 10 Jaxson Drive, Sugar City, Idaho 83348 or call 208-356-4782.