Bill Baker’s grandparents are buried there. His parents are as well.
Baker, Piedmont’s mayor, said he and his wife will also one day take their places in the family plot in Highland Cemetery, perched atop a hill overlooking the city he loves, and the mountains beyond.
It’s a stunning view, to be sure, but the roads in the cemetery — established at the turn of the century — suffered from a harsh winter this year, Baker said. Ruts and cracks line the maze of asphalt cutting between the hundreds of graves that climb the steep hill.
Repairs started this week on those roads, thanks to help from Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and the Calhoun County Commission, Baker said.
“It was a harsh winter. Lots of ice and snow and rain,” Baker said.
Piedmont could not afford to pay to repair the many roads, Baker said, so he began asking for help from county and state politicians.
“I’d never really asked Del for a lot,” Baker said, but when asked, Marsh arrived one day in June to ride along with Baker and inspect the damage.
Baker said Marsh called after his trip to Piedmont to tell him to expect those repairs soon.
The state cannot legally use tax money to pay for things such as road work on behalf of local municipalities, Marsh said, but he worked with the County Commission and was able to help commission members free up money to pay for the cemetery’s roadwork.
“It was a way for those of us in public service to work together to, at the end of the day, provide some maintenance to the cemetery,” Marsh said.
County Engineer Brian Rosenbalm said county workers will repair the worst spots before the commision pays a contractor about $23,000 to tar and gravel the cemetery’s roads, likely in early fall.
“I just wanted to say how much Marsh is appreciated for taking the lead on this,” Baker said. “He has a mighty big area. I do hope that the people of Piedmont appreciate him.”
Staff writer Eddie Burkhalter: 256-235-3563. On Twitter @Burkhalter_Star.