HEYWORTH - Kenny Slayback has laid a lot of bricks over the years. He's even made some money off it.
His latest project, however, is a labor of love.
Slayback is doing stonework that is part of an upgraded entryway to Long Point Cemetery in rural DeWitt County. After doing a similar project at another DeWitt County cemetery, he was asked to do the Long Point project.
Slayback said yes, on one condition.
"You're not paying me or I'm not doing it," said Slayback.
His refusal stems from the fact that several of his relatives are buried in the cemetery, including grandparents, parents, brothers and uncles.
The job is complicated by the material being used; six tons of Wisconsin stone, all in irregular sizes. Part of the process is selecting the right stone to fit the next space. Oftentimes, a stone has to be made to fit.
"It's too hard to cut so you have to hand-chip the stone," Slayback explained. Clint Martens of Heyworth is assisting Slayback with that task, selecting a stone that will either fit or pounding away with a hammer to make it fit.
Slayback got his start as a brick mason in 1946, shortly after World War II ended and he was discharged from the service. He's done every type of brick job, including laying memorial bricks at the veterans' memorial in Randolph Township Memorial Cemetery outside Heyworth. He figures he's built as many fireplaces as anyone in McLean County.