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2017-11-03 digital edition

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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


November 3, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

National group donates $25K for cemetery repairs

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

Work to repair damage from Hurricane Irma to Chapel Hill Memorial Park cemetery in Largo is progressing faster than anticipated, and funding for the job got a recent boost when the Jewish Federations of North America approved a request for $25,000 from its national emergency fund.

“I said before I thought it would take six months to get back to normal, but I think we will finish before that,” said Doug Negretti, chairman of the non-profit Jewish Burial Society of Pinellas County, which owns the cemetery. “We are about 75 percent done.”

The $25,000 from Jewish Federations of North America was requested on behalf of the Burial Society by the Jewish Federation of Pinellas and Pasco Counties, which had pledged $50,000 of its own funds through allocations and a loan. Community members have also donated more than $12,000.

Negretti said the Burial Society is still accepting donations, noting that he recently received a call from a temple in Tampa inquiring about making a donation. The donations will be used to repair any hurricane damage not already funded or for other capital improvements, he said.

The latest estimate of costs to restore the cemetery to its condition before the hurricane is $93,000 but Negretti said until drainage system repairs are made, a firm total can not be determined.

“As they make repairs, they may find more damage. We just won’t know until work on that begins,” he said.

The hurricane overturned huge trees and about 20 medium sized ones and as the trees toppled, some uprooted drainage and irrigation lines and left large holes that needed to be filled. The bulk of the damage was done to the non-Jewish area of the cemetery, including a casket being uprooted when one tree fell. The casket has now been reburied.

“We have finished the irrigation system work, and now that we have the sprinklers back on, we are finding some small holes to fill, but the repair also means we can now start on landscaping work, adding sod and replacing trees and bushes.”

Though the sod and landscaping work is still to be done, as well as the drainage system, he said the fallen trees have been removed, the stumps have been ground down and most holes are filled. The biggest job still undone is fixing the drainage system.

Even though the cemetery remained open for burial services, with damaged areas taped off during those services, the cemetery was closed to gravesite visitations due to fears that unescorted visitors might fall into holes or get hurt tripping over exposed pipes. Negretti said the cemetery is still not ready for folks to visit on their own, but if they stop by the cemetery office during office hours, a worker there will be happy to escort them.

“We are coming along faster than I thought we would and I hope we are back to normal soon,” Negretti said.

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