City and county leaders seek to restore Elmwood Cemetery

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Community leaders say they're fed up with the substandard conditions of a historic Meridian cemetery, and they are determined to jump into action. Waist-high grass, weeds, and debris covered many of the headstones at Elmwood Cemetery.

"To me, it's a shame it has been abandoned," said Lauderdale County District 2 Supervisor Wayman Newell.

This Sunday marks 100 years since the end of World War 1. The centennial is a time of remembrance for the dozens of veterans buried at Elmwood, located on 10th Avenue, but for years family members have been forced to visit their loved ones in unstable conditions.

"We got it to a point where it was not as big an eyesore as it was, but then the tornado came in April and it destroyed it and made it seem like we never even touched it out here," said Meridian City Council President Tyrone Johnson.

Johnson, a veteran himself, says it's time to get the ball rolling.

"I'm going on 8 years, and again, I've been overseas last year so I know what they've gone through. I know they paid the ultimate price here and died for our country. So we need to do something as a community to honor that," said Johnson.

Johnson is pushing for the city to take control of the cemetery, but questions over who is the rightful owner stand in his way.

"What we're trying to do is look into how we're able to get this property and maybe turn it over to the city where we can be able to manage the upkeep," said Johnson.

Newell says this is not an easy task, but it is possible.

"I encourage anyone, if you have an ancestor here, a relation here, or just a good friend, that you try to come and clean around their grave," said Newell.

Johnson says anyone who wants to assist in the next cemetery cleanup may call the city clerk's office for more information.