Governor's Office for Local Development
Governor Ernie Fletcher Grants Funding to Letcher County

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, November 30, 2005  
Contact Information:  Samantha Cook
Public Information Officer

            Governor Ernie Fletcher and the Governor’s Office for Local Development (GOLD) announced today that the Letcher County Historical and Genealogical Society will receive a $3,500 cemetery preservation grant for the clean up of the Thorton Hill Cemetery in Whitesburg, which dates back to 1817.

            Governor Fletcher said this cemetery preservation project will help renovate one of Letcher County’s largest cemeteries. “My administration recognizes the importance of cemeteries in preserving our great state’s past. Cemeteries often hold the maps to discovering our history through those who have gone before us. It’s exciting that so many communities across Kentucky are working to preserve our past in an effort to enlighten our future.”

            The grant funds will be used for initial clean up, including mowing and brush removal; and cleaning and repairing and replacing tombstones.

            Senator Johnny Ray Turner noted, “Cemeteries serve as markers for the historical timeline of our state’s past.  It is important for Letcher County that the Thorton Hill Cemetery be preserved for all residents.”

                The Kentucky Cemetery Preservation program funds maintenance, preservation and restoration activities.

            Examples of eligible activities include initial cleanup and landscaping, purchasing equipment, fencing, signage and improving interior roads. Preservation and restoration activities include acquiring conservation easements, surveying boundaries and repairing and cleaning tombstones.

Other activities that are eligible for funding are historic research, archiving, training to support cemetery preservation and improving access roads.

Counties may establish five-member county cemetery boards to apply for grants. State agencies, local governments, and certain nonprofit organizations – cemeteries, historical and genealogical groups, and local civic groups – also may apply. However, applications from county boards will receive funding priority.

The maximum grant that a group can receive is $25,000 and the minimum grant is $1,000, and a one-to-one local match is required.

A five-member state board oversees the program and makes funding decisions. The state board is comprised of representatives from the Kentucky Heritage Council (KHC), the Kentucky Historical Society, the Kentucky Association of Counties (KACo) and the Kentucky African-American Heritage Commission and chaired by the Commissioner of GOLD.