California residents form Preservation Association

Members of CAPA visited Highland Cemetery on Memorial Day to honor deceased California residents by placing flowers on their graves

Members of CAPA visited Highland Cemetery on Memorial Day to honor deceased California residents by placing flowers on their graves

A new community organization in California is hoping to “encourage preservation and understanding of the town’s narrative.” The California Area Preservation Association (CAPA) was formed in early April and created a Facebook page in late May. Approximately eighty members joined immediately and the group continues to expand, much to the delight of board members Alice Harris, Carla Anderton, Shawn Ranieri, Bt Gilligan, and Rosemary Capanna.

“Alice and I met and discussed things we could do to make California better,” said Capanna. “We had an idea to create a proactive organization whose emphasis is restoring pride in our town and its heritage. We can accomplish this if we all lend a hand and tackle a few projects. If we have vision and do some work, we can make a difference. I truly believe that.”

Some of the projects include, but are not limited to:

—Beautification projects for our cemeteries.

—Acknowledgement of notable persons and places in our town and methods to educate others about them. We would like to place markers, develop walking tours, and create informational and educational brochures, among other things.

—Assist residents with preservation, archiving, digitization, etc. of documents, photos, and other items.

—Beautification projects for our town, including plantings and landscaping, creation of street art, etc.

The organization is already well on its way to accomplishing several of its initial goals. For Memorial Day weekend, CAPA placed wreaths on the graves of several prominent residents. The first to be recognized were three of the town’s six founding fathers, Job Johnson, William W. Jackman, and George W. Hornbake; the family plot of Civil Rights martyr Viola Liuzzo; and Dr. W. H. Phillips, for whom the town of Phillipsburg was named. The group hopes to expand its wreath-laying project in upcoming years.

Through Harris’ efforts, plans are being made to beautify the entrances to Highland and Phillipsburg Cemeteries with some landscaping. Plants have been donated and funds collected to assist with supplies. Volunteers will do the actual planting and other labor.

On Memorial Day, CAPA placed wreaths on the graves of several  prominent California residents, including the town’s founding fathers

On Memorial Day, CAPA placed wreaths on the graves of several prominent California residents, including the town’s founding fathers

“Eventually I would like to have a flower planted on each grave,” explained Harris, “even if it’s just a daffodil. It really wouldn’t be difficult to do, although it would take some time. Some of the gravesites are so old that they don’t receive the extra bit of attention and respect that they should. It would be nice to change that. The entrance landscaping is a very good start.”

CAPA is planning self-hosted walking tours, too. Maps with keys to places of interest have already been roughed out. “The idea is to map out walking tours – we can do several of them – with markers at each stop,” said Capanna. “The markers won’t be large, but they will be noticeable enough. In addition to the pertinent information at each location, I personally would like to see QR codes on the markers. QR codes are scanned with a smartphone or tablet and a webpage with related information is automatically accessed. Audio and photos, things of that nature, can be included. We’ve already explored several options regarding markers. It’s exciting to let our imaginations run wild and then see if we can make those ideas reality. The neat thing is that this sort of creative energy is contagious. For example, one resident asked that we consider including information regarding quarter mile, half mile, etc. walking routes. For some, that will mean they are walking with a dual purpose – to learn about the town and improve their health. I hope we can make that happen, and I think it’s delightful that those sorts of suggestions are already coming our way. We are emphasizing the positive aspects of California, and people are getting caught up in it.”

If you would like to get involved with CAPA, call 724-503-2354 or visit facebook.com/groups/calpreservation
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Story by Rosemary Capanna for Pennsylvania Bridges

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