3 ON YOUR SIDE: Volunteers to clean up run-down historical cemetery in Ooltewah
HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -
A group of loved ones are working to clean up a historical cemetery in Ooltewah. Channel 3 first brought you this story Monday. Hamilton County and the state has no record of who owns Floral Hills Memory Gardens off Pattentown Road. After our story aired, more people are wanting to help.
"I owe it to mankind. I owe it to every person buried up here. Not just my family. I mean, this is total disrespect for everybody. Not just family," says William Paris.
Channel 3 introduced you to William Paris Monday. His mother, father, and sister-in-law are buried at Floral Hills. After years of trying to track down an owner of the land with no luck, he is now focusing his efforts on cleaning up the cemetery.
"We've got actual trees growing out of people's graves," he says.
"When we bought that property in the 60s, it was a beautiful place," says Louise Dossett.
Louise Dossett bought four plots in 1964.
"My daughter's there and her daddy is there," says Dossett.
Come Thursday, another loved one will be there as well.
"After tomorrow it will be just one more plot there. Because they're going to bury my grandson there," she says.
Dossett's 45-year-old grandson will be laid to rest near a statue of Jesus.
"It looks like a forest instead of a cemetery," says Dossett.
Several years ago, when the landscape started to change, she reached out to the man who was president of Floral Hills.
"He told me they were no longer in charge of it."
Now, there is no county or state records on who actually owns the land.
"It would take a lot of work and it cost someone a lot of money to clean it up," says Dossett.
A group of volunteer firefighters is jumping in to help. Members of the Tri-Community Fire Department created a Facebook page to organize a clean up day.
They are doing it to honor the memory of volunteer firefighter Steward Gandy, who died while fighting a fire. He was buried at Floral Hills in 1979.
"It would mean a lot! It would mean a lot to me. God would be answering my prayer if they could get it cleaned up," says Dossett.
"You can see with the overgrowth and the trees and everything, this is going to be one huge project," says Paris.
The volunteer group is planning clean up days for September. They welcome everyone to come out and help. You can mark your calendar for Saturday and Sunday, September 26th and 27th. They will be out at the cemetery all day.