Dear Friends of Lexington Odd Fellows Cemetery:
It has been a difficult and stressful time, since I last wrote you in early February, and what we then knew as normal life, has changed dramatically. The virus, known as COVID-19, beginning in China in late 2019, has swept around the globe, causing more than 190,000 deaths globally, 46,000 deaths in the States and 200 deaths in Mississippi. Governor Reeves has just replaced the “shelter- in-place order” with a “safer-at-home-order,” which allows most retail businesses to reopen. Medical providers and first responders daily face life threatening challenges. Schools have closed, leaving parents without childcare and children -- who do not have on-line access to a curriculum – with an uncertain educational future. Many have lost their jobs or been furloughed. Retirement accounts have dramatically diminished, so those dependent on them are left wondering if they will have enough income to support their waning years. What we once considered to be an ordinary errand, such as going to the grocery store, has become a Herculean effort. Food banks are struggling to keep pace with soaring demands. And for those without an income, just putting food on the table for their families, is a time filled with fear and anxiety – do I pay my rent or mortgage, or do I feed my family? For most of us who did not live through the depression, it is the worst of times.
So, writing about LOFC now seems trivial and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. You may have noticed that our website went “dark” on April 16, only to reappear the next day after continuing issues with our previous web designer in California. We have since hired a new company, The Whit Group, in Jackson and are back on-line. Chris Hammett who manages the cemetery management system (CMS) as well as a plethora of other responsibilities for LOFC, and I will have a tutorial on the website and CMS so that we are able to assume more of the daily tasks without incurring additional costs. Who said, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?” Not that Chris and I consider ourselves “old dogs.”
In late February, after most capably and conscientiously serving on LOFC’s Board, Al Povall decided to retire from the Board to devote more time to his writing. In case you did not know, Al is a published author, presently working on his fifth book. It is a great loss to LOFC for Al, with his good mind and sound reasoning, was instrumental in the formation of the legal entity called LOFC. He drafted the by-laws, the articles of incorporation, the deed for conveying lots, the mission statement, filed the application with the IRS for 501(c)13 status, ensuring its acceptance, made the necessary filings with the Secretary of State, including the annual report, and kept the rules and regulations up to date. He has left a huge void in the administration of LOFC and will be missed enormously. With Al’s departure, the Board invited me to fill the three years of his unexpired six-year term. I am honored to serve out his term but realize that he will be a hard act to follow.
The Board continues to deal with on-going security issues. Three of the four gates are locked to prevent after hour trespassers. The fourth gate is open and closed according to the following hours: Central Standard Time – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Daylight Savings Time – 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. In the event there is a funeral, more than one gate will be open for access and egress.
Fire ants continue to thrive at the cemetery, so once again Richard Hammett generously volunteered to spread poison on the grounds to eradicate this problem (see photo). If anyone would like to help Richard with this issue, please contact either Richard or Chris Hammett.
Maintenance never ends, and as soon as one project is completed and paid for, another one seems to appear. The brick columns at the main (3rd) gate have been damaged to the point where the columns are crumbling, and the gate no longer hangs on its mounts. The Board has contracted through Bubber Carnathan to rebuild the brick columns using interior steel rods for support and to rehang the gate on the new columns. The fence line along the south side of the cemetery is overgrown with brush and tree saplings, so Toddrick Brooks -- who began maintaining the grounds of LOFC in January -- will shortly clear this area, so that he can mow and keep the fence line clear.
After reviewing prudent investment options, the Board voted to invest $150,000 of the endowment fund with Raymond James Financial Advisors. A portion of these funds have been invested in the Vanguard 500 Index Fund, with the remainder of the funds in a money market account until the market becomes more stable. Another $150,000 has been invested in certificates of deposit at Holmes County Bank & Trust Company and BankPlus with varying dates of maturity. At present, we have approximately $100,000 in our operating account. During the month of February, we received $4,549 in donations, and in March, we received no donations, no doubt due to the uncertain times in which we live. If you are one of those fortunate ones, who has not been adversely affected financially by COVID-19, and you would like to donate to LOFC, now is an excellent time to do so. You may send a check made payable to LOFC, Post Office Box 1213, Lexington, MS 39095 or visit our website and make an on-line donation using a credit card
Pursuant to the “shelter- in-place order,” the Board held its April meeting electronically via Zoom. It was a new experience for the Board, but all agreed that it was fun. In many ways it was more efficient as we each had to be well prepared in order to comply with the 40-minute time limit for a Zoom meeting.
Finally, the Board joins me in asking that you and your family continue to practice social distancing and shelter in place as much as you can during these unprecedented times. Be kind to others, and as our mother used to say, “be gentle with yourself.” May God have mercy on us all.
Amanda Povall Tailyour, Editor