BLACKFOOT, Idaho - State Hospital South dedicates more than 100 headstones today as part of an ongoing project to identify unmarked grave sites for former patients.
Hospital Administrator Tracey Sessions is getting closer to her goal today. Before she retires, she wants everyone at the hospital's cemetery to have a headstone.
"When I first came to the hospital there were 15 headstones. We were able to place another 30 the following year and this year we've raised enough money for 120 additional headstones," Sessions said.
The new stones came from raffle and donation money. Sessions said the hospital isn't done raising money yet. "We still have over 1,000 patients here that need to have the honor and dignity of having a headstone placed for them," she said.
Sessions and her staff hope to place another 300 stones on the ground by next Memorial Day but they don't come cheap.
"The ones that we get with the basic name are about $74 a headstone. That's considering the cost of production, the granite and the fact that the cemetery company drives from Utah to deliver them," said State Hospital South employee Lauren Watts.
The high price tag is why they're asking for the public's help. "This is a community project and a community effort. Even though State Hospital South has been here since Idaho was just a territory, we're part of this community and we're just asking for support in helping us fill the cemetery," said Watts.
Since 1886, the cemetery has been used to bury people who receive services at the state hospital. In the late 1980s, it stopped the burials. If you would like to make a donation toward a headstone, call Watts at 785-8405