Deep within Welsh Power Plant’s property, you’ll find an historic, well-kept cemetery. It’s a resting ground for those who came before us – those who lived as far back as 1855.
But it hasn’t always been in the shape it’s in today.
“We went over to [the cemetery] one day to look at it and assess it, and we saw it was in pitiful shape,” said Maintenance Planner Keith Johnson. “We knew if we didn’t do something, the cemetery would be gone in 20 or 30 years.”
In early 2016, under the leadership of Outage Coordinator Steve Nix, Welsh employees began a project to restore and preserve the historic Lev Old cemetery.
“We didn’t brainstorm this great project to reclaim the cemetery,” said Nix. “It was just recognizing one need after another.”
The first need was keeping destructive, feral hogs out. To do that, a new fence was needed, and Johnson knew exactly what would work: leftover chain-link fence from a previous work project.
Once the hogs were kept at bay, the wooded vegetation was removed, and it was possible to mow and weedeat. Finally, to remove dead grass and rake, Nix asked for volunteers from the plant. He was thinking five to six would show up – over 30 did.
The two-year project included a new fence and gates, replacement of deteriorated funeral home markers with stone markers, uncovering of original iron ore markers, and newly planted flowers. The project was completed in September.
Between the start and completion, cleaning up Lev Old cemetery caught the attention of other SWEPCO employees, including Principal Engineer Greg Garter, who helped Nix with the research of those resting at the cemetery. With that information in hand, Sr. Administrative Assistant Alice Cogburn helped put together a plaque for outside its gates.
The work of Welsh employees has not gone unnoticed; the Titus County Historical Commission caught wind of the work, and has awarded the plant and its employees with a Merit Award.
The purpose of the Titus County Historical Commission Merit Award is to further public awareness and education about the historical significance of a person, place or thing, within Titus County. TCHC “Markers” are also designed to aid in the preservation of the local history and heritage by providing a visual symbol that there is historic significance relating to the location of the TCHC “Marker.”