Some Lincoln Cemetery Volunteers Resign After They Say City Scheduled "Unlawful" Burial

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By Catalina Trivino

From Montgomery -- some volunteers at Lincoln Cemetery say they've quit taking care of the property, which for years had gone neglected. They say they're upset that the city will allow a burial to take place later this week because that is against city ordinance.

Those volunteers are part of a group called the Lincoln Cemetery Rehabilitation Authority. Before the group existed, Lincoln Cemetery had weeds that sometimes went past your knees, trash, even open caskets with bones exposed...

But the LCRA says a burial is scheduled this Friday at the cemetery and a city ordinance says burials aren't allowed at neglected cemeteries -- Lincoln cemetery is registered as one of those.

Phyllis Armstrong is a Lincoln Cemetery Rehabilitation Authority board member --  coming here five days a week doing anything you can imagine... from leveling gravel to picking up limbs...

"This will probably be some of the last limbs we'll be picking up," Said Armstrong.

But after nearly four years, she says she could be throwing in the towel.

"There's no one supposed to be buried out here because legally there is no sexton in this cemetery. There's no one to look after it to see if it's properly taken care of, but they want to bury someone out here," Said Armstrong.

Armstrong says a burial is taking place on Friday. But Lincoln Cemetery also falls in the registry of neglected cemeteries in Montgomery since June 2010 -- which means burials aren't allowed in neglected sites.

Armstrong says if the city moves forward with the burial, they can expect her resignation.

Denise Hardin was the LCRA researcher and photographer. She says it's not fair for the city to allow someone to be buried even after an ordinance is in place. She says she's resigned after four years.

"I resigned because I refuse to work for a city government that has no integrity and will not back up this authority. There's a cease-and-desist order in this cemetery," Said Hardin.

We reached out to city attorney, Jason Faulk about why the city is moving forward with the burial. His statement reads: "Based on the records provided, the City believes it is within the authority of the Council to permit the burial in Lincoln Cemetery."
    
"And now that they want to bury someone out here against the rules, it's like the integrity is missing," Said another volunteer who quit, Janie Johnston.

Volunteers tell me they fear it will fall back to the way it was. We reached out to chairman of the LCRA board Phillip Taunton, he says he's resigned today . A third board member, Darry Johnston, has also resigned.

Those volunteers we spoke with say besides the ordinance, there's also too many people buried at Lincoln Cemetery. It's supposed to fit 750 plots. Volunteers say there are 7-thousand graves there.
 




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