GUNTERSVILLE, Ala. -- Three cemeteries in Marshall County are owned by the same people and we've gotten messages, phone calls, and emails about the conditions at all of them, but a spokesperson for the owners told us things are changing.
Brookwood Cemetery in Arab, Marshall Memorial Gardens in Albertville, and Crestview Cemetery in Guntersville are owned by two people who live out-of-state. They also own a cemetery in Hampton Cove, in Madison County.
Don Shaver has several family members laid to rest at Crestview Cemetery's mausoleum. "My big concern is the condition of the building, and the leaking, and the water, and the roof, the tile," Shaver explained, "I had offered to buy the tile if they would put it down, but they wouldn't even do that." The building's ceiling is in bad shape. There was standing water, and a dead bird lay in the corner when we were there Thursday morning.
"We feel like something needs to be done," Shaver said .
Earlier this month a slew of emails, phone calls, and messages from concerned residents showed a glimpse into the conditions at Marshall Memorial Gardens in Albertville, which has the same owners. Tire tracks ran over graves, deep ruts cut into the sod, and long grass crept up headstones.
Jason Chamblee was a manager of the cemeteries, but he's no longer on the job as of this month. He told WHNT News 19 he "tried to put 100 percent" into the job, and he requested funds for maintenance and pay raises for employees. He said prices have been raised and fees were added on. Turnover was high, he said, because of the pay and working conditions. He added there weren't enough people to adequately handle the cemeteries. Chamblee said the owner said there wasn't money to take care of the issues people complained about, but he disagrees.
A spokesperson for the owners told WHNT News 19 they weren't aware issues were as bad as they are and a new staff is handling the cemeteries. The owners said they realize there are problems and they're working to fix them. In the last week, the spokesperson said the mausoleum was pressure washed, and they're waiting on estimates to fix the roof.
The spokesperson said crews went out Thursday to remove the dead bird from inside the mausoleum and to clean trash from Crestview Cemetery. The owners said they want residents to voice issues they know of at any of the four cemeteries, and they ask for patience as crews work to make things right.
Shaver said his family would just like to see a change, and that's a sentiment shared by many others. "It's a disgrace to the city of Guntersville," he said, "I think it's a nice site, and I think it needs to be kept up, and I think people paid their money for it, and somebody needs to stand up and take responsibility."