Plot owners raise concerns over Lamar Co. cemetery's condition - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Plot owners raise concerns over Lamar Co. cemetery's condition

Plot owners raise concerns over Lamar Co. cemetery's condition./Photo credit: WDAM Plot owners raise concerns over Lamar Co. cemetery's condition./Photo credit: WDAM
LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) -

Magnolia Memorial Gardens Cemetery sits tucked away at the end of Hillcrest Drive in Lamar County.

More than 400 graves are scattered across the private cemetery, with nearly a dozen belonging to veterans who fought in various wars.

“I have two uncles, World War II veterans buried here, there’s one buried in the hole that stands when it rains in a foot of water, a World War II veteran, there’s five people buried down there in that hole,” plot owner Jerry Idom said. 

Idom, 77, whose family owns more than a dozen plots in the cemetery, pointed out a section of the cemetery that is covered in 4 to 5 foot brush.

“This  (grave) is a World War II vet, I mean these guys fought for their country and they are laying down here in water,” Idom said. “Another issue I have is the dumpster that is by the adjacent apartments, all the trash blows over in the cemetery.”

Idom carries a briefcase containing a stack of documents all about the history of the cemetery and letters he has received from people at the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office and the Mississippi Attorney General.

“I have written letters to everyone, I have asked for help from plenty of people trying to get something done about the condition of this cemetery,” Idom said.

MOBILE VIEWERS: View pictures of the cemetery here.

WDAM 7 News reached out to the MS Secretary of State’s Office who replied with this comment:

“Our office in the past has made the owner aware of maintenance and upkeep complaints regarding the care of the cemetery, and we continue to do so.  Complaints to this office in the past have focused on trash from an adjacent apartment complex blowing onto cemetery grounds."

- Anna Moak, communication director for the MS Secretary of State’s Office.

“(The apartments) put all the trash here and it blows all over the cemetery it’s never picked up, they are supposed to mow it and you can see its not mowed regular, grass is growing over cemeteries,” Idom said. 

Another issue Idom addressed regarding the cemetery is that people walk their dogs through the burial site.

“The people out at the apartments walking their dogs and letting them urinate on the headstone, that chokes me,” Idom said. 

WDAM 7 News also reached out to the Lamar County Board of Supervisors, who had this comment:

“While the Lamar County Board of Supervisors agrees that the conditions at the cemetery are in dire need of improvement, the law does not allow them to take action because it is privately owned. On a personal note, my maternal grandparents are buried there. My grandfather is a WWII Purple Heart Veteran. Believe me, if the supervisors had the authority to remedy the situation, I would be the first one to try to rally them to the cause. Families have paid for perpetual care in a privately owned cemetery and it is the responsibility of the cemetery owner to keep up the grounds. County officials have reached out in the past to the Secretary of State’s Office for help getting the owner to do his part. What will come of that remains to be seen.”

- Jody Waits, Lamar County Administrator

WDAM 7 News also reached out to the cemetery owner, David Evans.

“I’m responsible for every person that’s buried there, and every family that’s buried there, I mean it’s my obligation as a cemeterian,” Evans said. 

Evans said that his grounds keeper has been out for a few weeks.

WDAM 7 News asked the question:

“Are you comfortable with how they are buried in here, because there are five world war two veterans that are in there?”

Evans said, “I totally, this is something that I inherited, and I keep… and I haven’t kept up with it, with my new guy…and I know what you are talking about."

Evans pointed out a graded strip of gravel along the front of the cemetery, saying that it could lead to a front entrance, but he needs the land easement approved from Main Street Baptist Church to have it paved.

After the interview, Evans said his groundskeeper will be there Saturday to start cutting grass. He also added that if he could have a road laid at the front of the cemetery for another entrance, he could fence the side on Hillcrest Drive.

“I have 14 family members buried out here, I’d just like to be buried here, but I don’t want to come here with it unkempt and they don’t ever mow it or keep it up,” Idom said. 

Copyright 2016 WDAM. All rights reserved. 

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