Iowans with an interest in maintaining the state’s aging, historic cemeteries are invited to attend a meeting in the north-central Iowa town of Stanhope this weekend. Tony Bengston of Independence is president of the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries.

He notes the group’s name says exactly what they do. Bengston says, “We are all about the preservation of the cemeteries in the state of Iowa, geared more towards the inactive cemeteries, the abandoned cemeteries.” State legislators have declared cemeteries that have had fewer than 12 burials in the past 50 years as “pioneer cemeteries.”

He says that type of graveyard is more common in eastern Iowa’s counties versus western counties. “Some (counties) have pioneer cemeteries in the numbers of 60 to 80, but here in Buchanan County, we have about 20,” he says, “so it varies throughout the state.”

The association was formed in 1996 with a focus on rescuing untended pioneer graves and cemeteries and to take responsibility for their upkeep. There are about 100 members statewide. Saturday’s 10 A.M. meeting is at the Stanhope Community Building.

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(Reporting by, Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)