Tom Williams The owner of two cemeteries in Meridian has been the subject of an investigation by the Secretary of State's office. People have filed complaints over the upkeep of Magnolia Cemetery and Meridian Memorial Park. It appears a settlement could soon be reached.
A sale is imminent for Meridian Memorial Park and Magnolia Cemetery.
"Those negotiations have proceeded and we are pleased to have reached the offer stage,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says.
Family members of those buried in the two cemeteries have been very upset at the upkeep and say both cemeteries have been neglected for too long.
“It’s a shame and a disgrace,” Janice Wiggins says about where her family is buried.
Wiggins has family at Meridian Memorial Park.
“The ones who have loved ones buried out here, you come to the grave to show your respect and just squall because the graves look so bad,” Wiggins says.
Willie Frazier says his father used to take care of the cemetery.
“We got war veterans out here. To show the disrespect that we are showing them as a civilized society is the most shameful thing I’ve ever witnessed in my life,” Frazier explains. “When you came out here back in the 50s, 60s and 70s, this place was immaculate.”
The Secretary of State's office has been looking to put the cemeteries in the hands of responsible owners since an investigation led to their seizure. Hosemann says those potential buyers have been chosen and are ready to take care of what should have been taken care of in the first place.
“People in Meridian need to know, this kind of treatment of our deceased relatives, our children, mothers and fathers is unacceptable in the state of Mississippi,” Hosemann says.
William Arlinghaus’ Greenscape Michigan Inc. technically owns both cemeteries. According to Hosemann, Arlinghaus has to reinstate his dissolved Michigan business through that state and close on the sale.
“If the seller would do the things he really should have been doing already, then we can consummate the transaction. If not, then we will all be in court May 23rd,” Hosemann says.
Assets were frozen after the state couldn't locate roughly $90,000 that were supposed to be in separate accounts. Some of that money was for tombstones that were never placed.
Williams Arlinghaus tells Newscenter 11 all of the money and owed burial markers will be taken care of after the sale goes through. He tells us there are no missing funds and that the money is in different accounts. He tells us that he understands people are upset and that he will ensure a sale is complete by the end of April.