By JERRY MEISENHEIMER
HIGHWAY PARK — Just south of the town of Lake Placid lies a community that was platted back around 1935. It’s known as Highway Park.
But even before it was officially recognized, families lived and died there.
Just one block off of U.S. 27, there’s a cemetery on Crestmore Drive. Over the years, gravesites became overgrown with tree roots from trees planted by well-meaning relatives years ago. So, the residents of Highway Park formed a cemetery committee to restore the property to a place of respect and pride.
According to cemetery president Selvin McGahee, it has been a work in progress. With the help of Affordable Tree Service, the larger trees have been removed and the entangled root system has been taken care of as well.
With grant money received through the efforts of the Highway Park Neighborhood Council, chaired by Evelyn Colon, improvements to the cemetery have been ongoing. In addition to the cleaning of burial plots, a large fence and an impressive concrete sign have been added.
McGahee said that his parents and his grandparents are buried in the cemetery, so he has a personal interest in the beautification efforts. He is also very proud of the newly erected flagpole and the section reserved for military veterans.
Last Saturday morning everyone was invited to attend a re-dedication ceremony.
Former Highlands County commissioner Jack Richie was in attendance. Richie was instrumental in securing the grant money. Also present was current County Commissioner Arlene Tuck, who vowed to continue to help the Highway Park Neighborhood Council with its projects.
Colon spoke to the crowd and thanked all those who volunteered their time and efforts to the cemetery renovation. She also wanted everyone to know that this cemetery has been accepted in the National Register of Historic Places.
Funding for the renovations was through a $10,000 Keep America Beautiful Community Resiliency grant and a $1,000 grant from Walmart Foundation. Lowe’s Store 2224 in Sebring provided the 224 feet of panels for the white vinyl privacy fencing at a tremendous discount.