It's one of the oldest cemeteries in Akron and the troubled economy has taken its toll on the maintenance of Mt. Hope Cemetery between South Main Street and Sweitzer Avenue on the city's near South side.
As the cemeteries budget has dwindled over the past three years due to shrinking donations, only one man remains to maintain the historic and deteriorating grounds..volunteer president Bob Heilman.
Heilman tries to maintain the cemetery grounds by himself with one aging riding lawnmower, and also has to hand dig any new graves by himself, the cemetery budget won't allow the hiring of anyone else to do the work.
"The biggest problem is keeping the equipment going, that and the fact we have no help. I mean people don't want to come in here and volunteer and do anything like that. And I understand with things being tight they're all scrambling too, but it gets a little rough to do this with one person or two people trying to do it, and keep it all up," says Heilman.
Heilman says Mt. Hope now operates on a budget of $9,000, down from $30,000, just a few years ago.
A house next to the cemetery that serves as its office is nine years behind in tax payments.
Heilman says Mt. Hope needs more donations, volunteers and customers.
The number of burials annually at Mt. Hope has sharply declined over the past few years, even though Heilman says the cemetery has 500 plots left to sell.
Heilman is worried about the cemetery's future. " I'm extremely concerned because I'm 60 years old, and I don't know how much longer i can keep doing this. My health is going downhill. Like I said, no one wants to get involved. The older people who do care are at the point that they can't come in and help."
Bob Heilman says the cemetery's board of directors members are mainly in their 80's and 90's, and he's concerned about the need for younger board members in the future.
The result of worsening hard times at Mt. Hope can be seen by the high grass that grows when the only mowing machine breaks down.
Heilman says he does the best he can to keep up, but he's frustrated by what has happened to what was once one of Akron's best maintained cemeteries.