Cemeteries Part of Community

"This cemetery has been an eyesore for the community for years, said
Beverly Knox, coordinator for the Meridian-Lauderdale Keep America Beautiful Committee, as she showed the condition of an abandoned cemetery on 10th Avenue.

With many tombstones nestled in weeds, this is one of about a half dozen abandoned cemeteries in the city.

Although it's now covered with trees and bushes, the cemetery on 10th Avenue is thought to extend about a block to a playground at the back of East End Head Start Center.

"I think it sends a message that we don't care," said Knox. "And when industries come in, we want to make sure that we put on our best face forward. Cemeteries are part of our community. So, we do need to make sure they're cleand up as well. It does have some effect on industries and businesses that might want to locate here in our community."

Although some volunteer groups already clean portions of the cemeteries, Knox said more help is needed. Because cemeteries are private property, city workers cannot do the work.

That's why Knox says she hopes to recruit more volunteers and come up with a rotating cleanup schedule.

Later this month, Keep America Beautiful will sponsor a free workshop on proper maintenance of cemeteries.

Anyone interested in attending the workshop or in volunteering in the cleanup effort is asked to call 485-1996.

"We need to be about maintaining some sense of history and that's what cemeteries offer is history in your hometown or local communities," said Knox.