NAMI Athens is also involved with other groups and organizations
in a major effort to restore, beautify and demystify the three
mental health graveyards located on the grounds of the old psychiatric
hospital complex on the Ridges. Prior to the onset of this project,
the graveyards were in poor repair, with many graves abandoned
to brush and woods and hundreds of stones uprooted and broken.
for a related story on how the graveyard
restoration project has affected the family of one former
patient, Viola Rapp.]
In addition, in the fall of 2000, Fox Family Channel had featured
"The Ghosts of Athens"- notably those in its Ridges
cemeteries - in its program, "World's Scariest Places."
To combat this nonsense and restore respect to the nearly 2000
former mental patients buried in the three cemeteries, the Ridges
Cemeteries Committee, made up of representatives of various public
entities, Ohio University, the Gathering Place, the Civilian Conservation
Corps, NAMI, etc. was created under the leadership of Bill Dunlap
at the 317 Board.
[Click for a
related story of how Civil War Veteran Nathan Littler finally
received the respect and recognition due]
Since then, the Committee, now headed by a member of the NAMI
Board of Directors, has overseen an impressive multi-entity effort
to restore the cemeteries themselves and to build a 1.3 mile Nature
Walk among the cemeteries. In addition, then State
Representative Jimmy Stewart helped our committee pass a bill
making public the names of all persons buried with only numbered
stones. (Visit the Directory.)
As part of the Walk, an old pond at
the base of one cemetery has been rebuilt. The purpose of the
Walk is to shine light, metaphorically speaking, on these beautiful
grounds with their remarkably abundant wildlife and to make them
a place of healthy, respectful recreation.
for the new Nature Walk Guide and
for a story and pictures about the
The Walk and Pond involved the labor of the Outbackers and two
types of classes from Hocking College, two generous grants from
the O'Bleness Foundation, in kind and monetary support from Hocking
College, Ohio University, NAMI Athens, and the work of many volunteers.
In 2008, NAMI, the Ohio department of Mental Health, and the 317 Board contracted an excavating firm to do improvements in the walk to prevent erosion and make its surface more permanent.
for a related story and pictures
of the beautiful results]