Volunteers need help cleaning up Floral Hills Cemetery - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Volunteers need help cleaning up Floral Hills Cemetery

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OOLTEWAH, TN (WRCB) -

Community members volunteered their time over the weekend trying to make a dent in cleaning up a historic cemetery in Ooltewah. 

Last month Channel 3 told how the Floral Hills Memorial Cemetery off Pattentown Road has become a dump site. Those with loved ones buried there say it's important to respect the hallowed ground.

"There's tombstones all in the woods. It's just not right," says Tri-Community Volunteer Fire Chief Charles Thomason.

READ MORE | 3 ON YOUR SIDE: Who owns run-down Ooltewah cemetery?

You have to look hard for the headstones at Floral Hills Memorial Gardens.
      
"We guess it's been growing up since probably '85."

For Tri-Community volunteer fire Chief Charles Thomason, it is a personal mission to clean the place up. A fellow firefighter, Steward Gandy was buried here in 1979.
 
He died from smoke inhalation while fighting a fire.

"Me and another guy at the firehall decided, hey, it's time to step up and try to do something."

That is because not one else has.
 
"We've asked around. We've asked the state. We've asked the county to help. And there's really nothing they can do because it's private property."

There is no record who owns the 60-acre cemetery but many Chattanooga families still own plots here.
 
"In fact they buried somebody three weeks ago here because they still had a contract," says Thomason.

Thomason is determined to honor not only Gandy's life, but also all the lives of those buried at Floral Hills.

"All we're doing is clearing bush and picking up trash."

"I can't even believe it's like this," says James Thompson.

James Thompson greatly appreciates the effort.

 "Never have I seen a graveyard like this. Never ever," he says.

He drove from Indianapolis to help with the clean up. He was able to find the gravesites of his grandparents and mother.
 
"I'm just so happy right now. I'm really happy," says Thompson.
 
"We're trying to get it to look like a cemetery again so maybe people will go, 'Hey, I don't need to dump there,'" says Thomason.

Thomason invites anyone and everyone to help.
 
"We'll get it cleaned up. It may take years but we'll get it cleaned up," says Thomason.

They will be back at it Sunday.

They also have clean up days scheduled for October 24 and 25 and November 7 and 8.

For more info on how to help, click here.
 

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