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Building ground, not breaking ground

Greenwood Cemetery kicks off shoreline restoration to save gravesites
Fox River shoreline
Posted at 7:05 PM, Nov 27, 2023
  • De Pere's Greenwood Cemetery announced the beginning of a project Monday to restore 1,100 feet of shoreline along the Fox River
  • The Civil War era cemetery has faced erosion issues for more than a decade
  • The project received $1 million in state funding, but the cemetery association says it needs $1.5 million more to complete the restoration, citing the cemetery's lack of religious or government backing as a non-denominational non-profit
  • The cemetery is crowdfunding the remainder of the money through its website
  • Video shows birds-eye view footage of the shoreline and stakeholders explaining the project

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

This cemetery has been a burial site since before the Civil War, but now some of these grave sites are in danger of sliding into the Fox River. Some of our neighbors are trying to save the cemetery with a restoration project.

Greenwood Cemetery has dealt with erosion issues for years.

"It's been in the last about 15 [years], since wakeboards came, that we've really noticed a massive amount of shore loss," said Jewels Sowers, the president of the cemetery association. "A massive amount."

The cemetery's issues caught the attention of state legislators like Assembly District 88's John Macco.

"They have literally had to relocate 33 graves already, and there are 20 more that are in danger of sliding into the river," Macco said.

Macco helped secure $1 million of state funding to restore the shoreline, but he and the cemetery's president say the project needs another $1.5 million to finish the project.

"There are no owners here," Macco said. "There are no monthly dues or fees that come into this thing. This is all done by volunteers."

The project manager announced Monday that his company will start work on the shoreline during the first week of December.

"We gotta get rid of a lot of trees," project manager Rich Skinkis said. A lot of trees need to come down first. Then, go down along the water and add the rock to stop the erosion down there."

The cemetery association says they need community support to continue being a peaceful place for local families to remember and mourn.

"This is the families of De Pere and Brown County," Sowers said. "This is who we are, are buried here."