CHERAW, S.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Families in Cheraw are frustrated with the lack of upkeep at a perpetual care cemetery.
Folks say they want loved ones to be in peace; they don’t feel like the owners of the cemetery care.
“I used to be able to come out here and just sit and talk with my dad,” Katie Cruz said.
She visits her late father regularly at Chatham Memorial Gardens Cemetery. He’s one of 5 relatives buried here.
But over the last few years, it’s been hard to see their graves due to the lack of upkeep around the cemetery.
These are pictures taken last week — before someone came and cut the grass.
Families say they’ve been dealing with these issues for more than six years, even after the cemetery was sold and purchased in 2019.
“Like when the grass is super high, and you’re constantly worried about snakes or ants… it’s just not peaceful out here,” Cruz said.
“We put our loved ones there for a reason; I’m two hours away.. my kids are two hours away,” said Tracy Riley. “And we expect the grass to be cut; we expect it not to be infested with ants or weeds over the mausoleum – the roads haven’t been repaired — it’s just heartbreaking.”
After her husband passed away unexpectedly, she and her children moved to Chapin to be closer to other relatives. She says it’s painful and tasking to drive back and forth to keep the site maintained.
The South Carolina Perpetual Cemetery Act says a cemetery company can’t become a perpetual care cemetery without providing for the future care and maintenance of the cemetery.
The act also states that “perpetual care cemeteries are obligated to maintain the physical appearance like pruning and trimming shrubs and trees, keeping the roads and mowing the lawns at least once a week.
The act also says cemeteries “designated “Perpetual Care” cannot be changed to “No Perpetual Care” once the designation is made.
“It’s kind of disrespectful and heartbreaking because how would the people that run this place feel if that was their family out here?” said Ivey Payne.
She also has about five relatives resting at Chatham Memorial.
Some graves are missing headstones despite families waiting months on orders.
The Perpetual Care Cemetery Board website says:
“Periodic inspections are made to ensure the appropriate maintenance of cemetery grounds and administration of the perpetual care trust fund and the merchandise fund.”
Riley says that hasn’t happened — She reached out to the board and the owners but hasn’t heard anything. They did not immediately return our request for comment.
“To see the neglect is just heartbreaking,” Riley says.
We spoke to Chesterfield County councilwoman Mary Anderson about the concerns. She says she’s gathering complaints via email now at email@example.com