News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, May 16, 2012
HEPHZIBAH, Ga. -- Family members of loved ones went from feeling grief to outrage, finding their tokens of love trashed in a local cemetery.
City leaders say the trinkets on top of graves at Hephizbah-Vance Memorial Cemetery were getting out of hand, so they had to get rid of them.
"You come so much it becomes a heartache," said Sheryl Glisson, a grieving widow who still has a difficult time when she comes to visit her husband's grave.
Her husband died of cancer several years ago.
"He was the soul of our family; he kept our family together," she said.
She says all the pain and heartbreak of his loss has resurfaced again after her latest visit to the cemetery.
"It's one thing when they take them and throw them like they are a piece of trash. That's how they think of our loved ones that are buried up here in the cemetery," Glisson said.
Glisson discovered her husband's small snow globe trashed in a pile of flowers, grave markers and trinkets toward of the back of the cemetery. The globe was broken.
"It's so wrong. This is what they think of our loved ones," she said in tears.
Shockingly, the pile of trashed memorabilia from graves is not the work of vandals but rather city workers.
City Councilman Thomas Alley is the chairman of the board for the cemetery. He says he sent a letter to loved ones back in February after city leaders voted to ban mementos on top of graves. Alley says the trinkets had to go so city workers could mow.
News 12's Elizabeth Owens: "Everything was just thrown in a big pile and broken and thrown in a trash can."
Alley: "No, it was not thrown."
Owens: "It looks like it, though."
Alley: "It's scattered."
Glisson received the letter but did not remove the globe from her husband's grave because she thought it was small enough not interfere with people mowing. Other families told News 12 they never received the letter of warning.
Glisson understands the ban on the mementos on graves. However, she doesn't understand why city workers would trash the trinkets in a big pile in view of grieving families.
"Instead of taking it somewhere else, you are going to leave it here for all the people that come up here to visit their loved ones to see this," she said.
City leaders told News 12 On Your Side one of the reasons they put everything toward the back of the cemetery is for loved ones to claim anything that belongs to them. They also say they simply didn't have anywhere else to store it.