Homeless man to "police" cemetary E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Are you a city official in a cash-strapped municipality that’s in serious danger of bankruptcy? Do you have distressed properties in your town that are magnets for drugs and violent crime? Well instead of expensive police officers or security guards, you might want to think about hiring the homeless.

According to a recent article in The Los Angeles Times, a cash-strapped police department in Northern California has recruited a homeless man to be the caretaker at a vandalism-prone cemetery in exchange for an indoor place to sleep.

The city of Marysville, about 45 miles north of Sacramento, has sustained $28,000 in damage over the last year alone at the historic cemetery.

But now, Donald "Shortstack" Oliver will live in a city-leased trailer on the property while he fights property crime.

"I never thought in my lifetime I'd be overseeing a graveyard, but hey, the good Lord has his ways," Oliver, 58, told reporters at the LA Times.

Oliver’s been homeless for three years. For much of that time he’s endeared himself to locals by trying to do what he can to help out other homeless people and local law enforcement as well.

Roberta Shurtz and volunteers from the Marysville Cemetery Commission are working on a project to restore old gravesites.  She hopes that Oliver's presence will stop the vandalism problem that has plagued the cemetery.

Oliver has already cleared away years of brush from the graves in just his first week “on the job.”

"It's like a step up for me because I've been homeless. I got something to do now that's worthwhile," Oliver noted.

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