SELMA, Ala. (WSFA) - The Cemetery Preservation Group has launched its efforts in Selma. The non-profit, with the help of local volunteers, has been working diligently with doing simple tasks like grass cutting in all three city-owned cemeteries.
“It’s just a disgrace to see it in such bad shape," said Cemetery Preservation Group President Doug Buster with Cemetery Preservation Group. “Certainly these people deserve our best efforts those that are buried here.”
Buster says they stepped up in Selma following the citywide layoff. New Live Oak Cemetery, Old Live Oak, and Lorenzo Harrison Memorial Gardens (Elmwood Cemetery) are the three cemeteries they have been focused on.
“The three cemeteries combined make up about 50 acres. This is a monumental task since most of this work has to be done with push mowers and weed-eaters," said Buster.
The non-profit’s efforts don’t stop with cutting overgrown grass. There are a number of restoration issues they are raising funds to fix.
- Stabilizing and repairing open graves as quickly as funds become available.
- Repairing retaining walls along walkways that have crumbled over the last century and have created a hazardous condition.
- Repairing more than 100 broken grave markers. Many of these markers have been broken by falling limbs.
- Removing dead trees and dead limbs which pose a danger and have not been addressed in many years.
- Cleaning and leveling thousands of grave markers.
“Some of the work will have to be hired out to professionals tree trimmers and brick masons,” said Buster.
Most recently the group was contacted by someone in Alaska regarding the cleaning of the grave of a 2-month-old girl who passed away in 1959. They were told she had no family left in Alabama.
“It is tragic that these cemeteries have been allowed to deteriorate for decades. Many volunteers, along with Cemetery Preservation Group, are pulling together to do this work to the best of their ability out of common decency and respect for those who are buried here,” said Buster.
An Adopt-A-Plot program has been started to get the community involved. An individual or group can adopt one or more sections to maintain.
“It’s just one of those things I think we need to take care of," said volunteer Lane Talbot.
Talbot says he has been volunteering with his church and now realizes all the help that’s needed.
“If you look around we need more people to help there is a lot of work to be done," said Talbot. “Hopefully this can be a start of things we can do together as a community.”
The group anticipates all the work they need to complete could take between three and five years. After finishing these three cemeteries they plan to move to other cemeteries around the state.