Residents upset about local cemetery condition

By Don Logana - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - An old cemetery is in disarray and people with loved ones buried there  want to know why.

While the caretakers say it's up to families to take care of the plots, one woman says the problem is much deeper.

"It needs to be cleaned up," Ashley White told WTOC.

White's boyfriend was buried at Oak Grove Cemetery two years ago.

"We upkeep his lot but as soon as we do, we end up taking care of seven other lots," White said. "You can clean one lot, but it won't look like you made a difference unless you clean four or five other ones beside it."

White says the bigger issue is the overall care at Oak Grove, or lack of.

"Everything is overgrown -- limbs down, headstones broken, trash, chip bags, transmission fluid bottles -- on a place of rest," she said. "It's horrible right down to the fact tree limbs are knocking over graves."

White and others claim to have tried contacting the owners of the cemetery with no luck.

"Nobody is getting any answers or any response," she said.

WTOC met White at Oak Grove Cemetery  on Tuesday afternoon, and within minutes, the caretakers of the cemetery, 80-year-old Cassie Williams and her grandson, Joseph Williams, joined us on the property.

"She was very nice and very open to speak to us," White said.

The Williams' didn't want to go one camera, but say Cassie's husband was the main caretaker for years, but died 18 months ago. Since then, her grandson says he comes out every week or two to clean up. However, since Oak Grove is a non-perpetual care cemetery, he says it is the responsibility of families to clean up the individual grave sites.

"If they are out here every two weeks, then they are doing the minimal they can," White said. "He said that tree just fell down. That tree has been there since I been coming here for the longest."

Williams says he will be back out to clean up again, but White thinks it may be time they find assistance.

"If you cannot maintain it, you can ask for help," she said. "It's a place of rest and it should not be like that."

The Williams family says the cemetery does have a board of trustees, but since the plot costs are so cheap, they don't bring in large amounts of money. They say the trustees haven't met since her husband's death last year.

However, when WTOC spoke to Mrs. Williams again just before airtime, she said her grandson was back at Oak Grove, cleaning up the property.

Copyright 2010 WTOC. All rights reserved.