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Gouverneur Cemetery Association appreciates donations

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GOUVERNEUR — The Gouverneur Cemetery Association, on the ropes financially a decade ago, is keeping its footing but still would appreciate donations of time and money.

“We’re doing OK,” said Michael E. Villeneuve, association president. “Our heads are above water.”

But the interest on its endowment is minimal, it cannot touch the principal and lot sales do not pay all the bills.

“We’ll accept donations in any amount,” Mr. Villeneuve said. “Our big problem is the price of gas and wear and tear on the equipment.”

Each mowing of Riverside Cemetery on William Street, handled through a contract, costs $2,900. Superintendent Ronald W. Taylor takes care of East Riverside Cemetery. The two cemeteries total more than 50 acres. The Kiwanis Club is sponsoring a cleanup at both cemeteries from 8 a.m. to noon May 3. Refreshments will be provided. The town will have a front-end loader available to take away debris.

Mr. Villeneuve and Mr. Taylor were at the village Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday to question Trustee Charles W. Newvine on a previous comment he made about the association disposing of two trucks and a lawn mower that came from the village.

“I was upset you implied they sold loaned equipment,” Gouverneur resident Diane L. Monroe said.

The equipment from the village was donated, not loaned, Mr. Villeneuve said. The trucks were used and then sold after their maintenance became too much. The lawn mower was traded for one that had a smaller dimension cut to make it easier to go around headstones.

“It’s not the equipment wasn’t appreciated,” Mr. Villeneuve said. “It was on its last legs. We couldn’t afford to maintain it. I don’t want you to skip us if there’s equipment to be donated.”

Mr. Newvine said he might have misspoken and asked that anyone with a personal issue talk to him about it first outside of board meetings.

“If you took offense to it, I’m sorry,” he said.

When Mr. Villeneuve asked if the village had any complaints about the cemetery association, Mr. Newvine said it does not take care of the sidewalks along its property.

The cemetery association is not equipped to maintain sidewalks, Mr. Villeneuve said, and Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said the village would help.

The village provides the association with $2,500 annually. The town gives the association $7,000 annually.

The cemetery association, started in 1857, is one of the oldest organizations in the village. If the association fails, its operations would become the responsibility of local government.

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