BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - We made contact with the cemetery’s management before one of the last two funerals, but dozens of phone calls and record searches since then have been met with silence or outdated information.
Now the former manager is shedding new light on what led to this point at George Washington Memorial Gardens, according to State Representative Juandalynn Givan.
Rep. Givans said she reached out to us on Thursday after the former manager reached out to her.
We were able to make brief contact with that former manager Thursday night, but our conversation was cut short before we could ask any questions. The call was disrupted for unknown reasons and we were not able to reach her again. Representative Givan says the ex-manager did reach out to her though, to explain her side of this story.
“The staff there was informed I think somewhere around September the 4th that their services were no longer needed. They were informed not to return back to work. Again no prior notice and have not been able to reach out to speak with the owner, but there have been discussions with the owner’s attorney. Or counsel that is representing the owner, but nothing has gone forward to the general public. And here again that remains the issue,” said Rep. Givan. “I’ve made some calls to the governor’s office as late as today. I’m still waiting on some return phone calls, but we want to make sure that we get to the right people. We want to make sure that we explore every possible avenue with regards to any type of contractual obligation, any responsibility on behalf of the owner. And also to make sure that the general public, the citizenry, the constituents of this area or the citizens of the State of Alabama know what their options are and know their rights…because at this point now we are at a point of recovery. We’re trying to figure out what do we do next, how do we salvage this, if it’s at all possible to salvage it.”
“This, cemetery is not just about my district, this cemetery holds the graves of many, many people in the state of Alabama and across this country,” said Givan.
A concerned family has posted flyers in several places on the grounds of George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens is now organizing a cleanup day at the cemetery at 1020 Minor Parkway on Saturday, Sept. 28th, 2013 at 8 a.m.
Representative Givan is also encouraging families with a stake in the future of the property to participate.
As we continue piecing this together each day brings new stories from worried customers and heartbroken families.
Some prepaid for plots, others are worried about who will take care of the graves of their loved ones. Thursday we met a woman who is in limbo waiting on a grave marker for her recently buried mother.
That’s the situation Sarah Fornis finds herself in just a few months after her mother’s funeral. Fornis says she has proof of payment, but no headstone. She’s desperate for answers, but says she can’t make contact with the management. The only number she has for the cemetery is the one that has been disconnected.
“I feel like I don’t know. Sometimes I feel like I carried my mom up there and throwed her away. Because nobody’s telling me nothing and it’s not right,” said Fornis.
“She said she was going to let us know when it comes in. She said it takes 12 weeks. I said that’s a mighty long time for 12 weeks, but she told me that’s giving the ground time enough to settle down. But see we left there, we hadn’t heard nothing else,” said Fornis.
” I’m still in the transitional period. She hadn’t been buried too long. And when we purchased the marker the lady said it will be 12 weeks before we could get it back- so it’s about that time now and I haven’t heard anything and it’s paid- cash. For it, we paid it in two intervals, five hundred dollars one time and five hundred the next. Are we going to get the marker? Is it time the marker come in? And then I really don’t know what company they ordered it from, but if the marker come in how are they going…the marker going to be delivered because the office is locked up and the company they ordered it from- if they ordered it they’re not just going to leave it out just laying around out there,” said Fornis.
“I just feel like they need to tell me something for where I can rest at night. And so you see, so I can get some kind of closure. It’s not fair…in the beginning I really liked this cemetery,” she continued.