Steve Harris, president of the Greenleaf Cemetery Board of Trustees, believes the “Broken Windows Theory” applies to the 150-year-old perpetual care cemetery.
The theory holds that broken windows in downtown buildings lead to more broken windows, crime and disorder.
Conversely, cleaning up and improving an area is likewise contagious, Harris said.
He believes one area where that applies to Greenleaf Cemetery is the fence line, which has been overrun by brush, weeds and trash. That’s an area the small Greenleaf landscaping staff, along with three men from a weekly Bible study, have been working at cleaning up, weed eating and cutting away the overgrown brush.
The help from the Bible study group is another example of community involvement that Harris has cited over the past several months as the cemetery continues its long, slow climb from near financial disaster.
Harris has also worked on the fence line, which he described with good-natured hyperbole as “78 miles” long.
It’s more like 1 3/4 miles, Greenleaf landscaping supervisor Shane Agan corrected.
“I guarantee, when you’re out there, it feels like 78 miles,” Harris said.
The Greenleaf board and staff continues working at “building bridges to outside organizations,” Harris said.
One of those organizations is the City of Brownwood, which has provided crews to haul away large brush piles that have been generated from the fence line clean-up. The city has also agreed to provide dirt for leveling depressions at the cemetery, Harris said.
“I will say, the city has been very responsive to all of our requests, (City Manager) Emily Crawford in particular,” Harris said.
Crawford said via email, “The Greenleaf Cemetery Board is an enthusiastic and passionate group of citizens who have made substantial improvements to the cemetery. They care for a place that is very special to our community and our history. The city has equipment and manpower that the Cemetery does not. It is a classic example of a healthy partnership.”
Harris also referenced donations that have recently been made to the Greenleaf Cemetery Association, including a $5,000 check from a man who wishes to remain anonymous. The man has given a total of $13,000 over the past 12 months.
In another instance, a group of cousins sent a check for $2,311 to the cemetery association in honor of their grandparents. The cousins have numerous family members buried at Greenleaf.
The cemetery association is thankful for donations of any amount, Harris said as he referenced a $50 check from another individual.
Harris also noted the presence of a printer in the Greenleaf office. Print Solutions donated the printer, which is “so smooth you could (use it) and not even know you’ve done it,” Harris said.
He also said the cemetery recently received a $500 grant from the Women’s Club of Brownwood, which was used to install water irrigation around the flowerbeds near the office.
Members of the Bible study group, in addition to helping clean up the fence line, have been helping with other tasks for several weeks. They are members of Dallas Huston’s study that meets Monday nights.
Jerry Sims, a member of the group, has been paying the men to work at the cemetery. “I just felt like it was something that needs to be done,” Sims said. “I appreciate what (the cemetery board) is trying to do. They need a little help.”
The work done by the men has freed up the small landscaping staff to work on other projects, Harris said.
“We are so thankful. I can’t thank them enough for all their help,” Harris said of the Bible study group.
“They’re certainly welcome,” Sims said.