Families fed up with conditions at cemetery

SMITH COUNTY (KYTX) -- A long list of families from Troup is banding together against a local cemetery. They say they're tired of watching their loved ones' graves be disrespected.

Visits to Pinecrest Perpetual Care Cemetery are usually private. But Ruth Sheppard invited us along Monday to see what she calls deplorable conditions.

"These are my parents. Mr. and Mrs. Elliot Stone," Sheppard said, pointing to a grave marker that was obscured by grass and weeds. "I bring a knife out here and I cut around their marker. I've had to do it since my dad was buried in 2006."

Between the grass, the weeds and the sticker burrs, Sheppard decided a long time ago that "perpetual care" was an empty promise. Then, not long ago, her friend Wanda Johnson called.

"I can't take this anymore," Johnson said. "It's just beyond me."

She has at least ten family members buried under an old pine tree that can't seem to hold onto its own limbs.

"Since 2007, I've been [picking them up] myself. Until we started this petition."

Sheppard and Johnson have a list of forty signatures, all from people who visit Pinecrest. They're filing it with an official complaint about caretaker David Dickey to the Texas Banking Commission which oversees perpetual care cemeteries.

Dickey declined CBS 19's request for an interview.

The complaint is based on decades-old paperwork promising cemetery workers will keep the grounds in good shape.

"[I want them to] at least edge around each marker so that you can see and respect those folks who are buried here," Sheppard said.

"If I don't fight this battle, the younger generation won't," Johnson said.

Pinecrest said the cemetery is in poor condition because of the rain over the last couple of days, but would not respond to our questions about the complaint.

The Texas Department of Banking said Dickey and Pinecrest will have 30 days to respond to the complaint. The cemetery will have to prove that a certain percentage of the its income is being used for upkeep. If not, the commission could step in with a punishment.


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