Several of Pulaski's forgotten or neglected cemeteries have been spruced up in time for Memorial Day, courtesy of inmates from the Pulaski County Detention Center.
Jailer Anthony McCollum, along with deputy jailers Rodney Dick and Robbie Cox, have spearheaded a program in which low-risk inmates spend one or two days cleaning up an overgrown cemetery.
McCollum said the jail got in touch with the Pulaski County Historical Society to get the locations of cemeteries around the county, many of which McCollum didn't know existed.
Most are family cemeteries that may not have any family left to care for them, he said.
The program benefits both the cemeteries and those who work on them, McCollum said.
Of the graves in the cemeteries, he said, "It's a way to honor these people. We might not know who they are, but they're the reason Pulaski County is where it is today. Each one had a story."
He added that Pulaski is the reason he is who he is today.
"Pulaski County has been very good to me over my time in law enforcement, and I wanted to give back to it."
Those who work on the cemeteries gain from the experience, McCollum said. They build confidence, boost their self-esteem and gain trust in the community.
"They learn skills and trades," he said. "Some didn't know how to operate a zero turn mower before this - some didn't know how to operate a push mower."
The inmates selected to work are all classified as low-risk by the Department of Correction. The detention center also conducts it's own assessment to make sure they are a good fit.
Many of the cemeteries are completely surrounded or mostly surrounded by private property. McCollum said the jailers take great care to get permission from the owners of any property the inmates need to cross to get to their target.
As an example of how much work goes into one area, Dick said that one day last week there were six prisoners who worked seven hours each.
Dick said that of the original list of 29 cemeteries, 11 have been completed.
McCollum said the hope was to get the rest of the list completed by Memorial Day, but that is only if the weather holds out.
If that can't be accomplished, he said they will continue to work on the cemeteries until the list is completed. Then, they hope to establish a maintenance schedule for all the cemeteries, because they don't want them to simply grow back up by next year.
McCollum added that if anyone knew of any other cemeteries that may need care, they can contact the Detention Center at 678-4315.wand ask to speak to Dick, McCollum or Cox to add it to the list.