Community unites to help Scout, clean cemetery

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By Carolyn Risner

When Brandon Bonaccorso of Williston had to decide on an Eagle Scout project, he looked no further than his drive to work in Micanopy.

Each time he went past the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Community Cemetery located on Hwy. 318, he was confronted by years of neglect on the eight-acre tract of land.

“I saw a need,” he said Saturday, clipboard in hand, as he orchestrated the work effort. He was joined by more than 150 people, including members from New Hope and congregations from Gainesville, Ocala, High Springs, Cross City, Williston and Chiefland Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

From pruning trees to clearing brush, youth and adults alike worked side by side for more than four hours to beautify the cemetery.

Raleigh “June” Wallace has been the self-appointed caretaker for the cemetery for more than 20 years, but its care has gotten out of hand and was simply more than he could do alone.

Wallace said families buy plots in the community cemetery and then each family is responsible for the maintenance of those plots. However, it doesn’t always get done, he said.

Some families die off, leaving no one to care for the land–others simply neglect it or leave it to someone else to do.

Wallace said the general maintenance of the cemetery would be easier for him once the cleanup is complete.

Bonaccorso has been planning the cleanup since November and has spent countless hours developing a plan that came together Saturday.

Once the project is reviewed, he will be eligible to become an Eagle Scout and participate in the Court of Honor ceremony.