Brownwood’s historic Greenleaf Cemetery has benefitted from recent fundraisers, but the 100-acre burial ground remains in desperate need of cash, Greenleaf office manager Freda Day said.
    She said the cemetery’s next fundraiser will likely be Aug. 19, as the Greenleaf Cemetery Association’s newest board member, Steve Harris, has proposed a yard sale for that day. The yard sale will probably happen, as there is no reason not to have it, Day said.
    She asked that the public begin donating items — excluding clothing — that could be sold, which will hopefully raise enough money to meet the monthly payroll. Items can be brought to the cemetery office, 2615 U.S. Highway 377 South.
    The monthly payroll is just under $5,000, and total expenses are a about $10,000 a month, Day said. Day has been office manager since April.
    In May, Keep Brownwood Beautiful partnered with the cemetery for a fundraiser dubbed $5,000 in Five Days. That ended up as $15,000 in 15 days, Day said, and the cemetery received just under $700 from a Father’s Day car show and the sale of pull pork sandwiches on Robert E. Howard Days. Howard is buried at Greenleaf.
    “We are still needing lots and lots of funds,” Day said.
    The cemetery is trying to repair past issues that have included mismanagement, theft and lack of oversight. Taxes went unpaid for various periods of time; the cemetery is trying to bring taxes current and is working with the IRS, which has been “very helpful,” Day said.
    Another issue: the cemetery has about $800,000 in a perpetual care fund, but that money can’t be used for operating expenses according to state law, Day said. Only the interest off of the fund can be used for operating expenses, and the amount from the interest has declined to about $1,000 a month as interest rates have remained low, she said.
    “We are trying to draw a line in the sand and move on from where we are and fix what’s broken,” Day said. “We have taken lots of steps to make sure what happened in the past can’t happen again.
    “We don’t want anybody to think we are anything but transparent.”
    Day said the cemetery has enough funds to make Friday's payroll and probably the next payroll in two more weeks — “and then, we don’t,” Day said. “We’re operating pretty close to the line.”
    Greenleaf Cemetery, which was established in 1868, has about 22,000 graves. It is one of the oldest perpetual care cemeteries in Texas, and many of Brown County’s earliest settlers are among those buried there.
    In addition to welcoming cash donations, “we would love to have more people involved,” Day said. She said there would be plenty for volunteers to do including weed eating and helping in the office. There is also an opening for three new board members on the seven-member board, Day said. The only requirements to be a board member are to own a plot or have family buried there, she said.
    People are always welcome to come to the cemetery — to “come and look around,” and some people walk their dogs there, Day said.