Cemetery Controversy

By Christel Phillips - bio | email

DIBOLL, TX (KTRE) - Some loved ones are outraged that City of Diboll want to change the policy rules regarding memorabilia on the grave sites. The city started to receive complaints from other loved ones stating some of the plots were unattractive. The city also began to see a hike in the costs to maintain the Forest Haven Cemetery.

Now they are making plans to address the changes in those guidelines.

"From time to time we've had to send people letters for people to come back within the guidelines," said Dennis McDuffie, Diboll City Manager.

Those letters went out last month they informed families that memorabilia items such as, photos, solar lights and balloons would be removed, because they did not meet the guidelines. It is also costing more money for the cemetery's maintenance.

The city spends about 12,000 dollars a year on maintenance costs for the cemetery.

McDuffie said, "We have had in place for a long time some rules and regulations about what can be put on the graves and how the graves should be maintained."

But families, say they just want to remember the lives of their loved ones.

Jana Jones, whose niece is buried at Forest Haven, feels that the memorabilia on the sites are the way that most of the families cope with the loss. "If you have an all of sudden death and life is taken at a young age you want to continue to remember that life, some of these people out here {Forest Haven Cemetery} have used all of this memorabilia to continue that," she said.

But the city says that some families complain that some of the plot areas were a little overboard. "There are people that want to keep it simple," said McDuffie.

Jones said, "I think that one of the issues of concern is the stuff that's left out here too long not being care of, but most of these people that are out here they do maintain it."

The City of Diboll says they don't want to disrupt the way people mourn their loved ones, but they do want to create a balance out of respect for everyone at Forest Haven burial site.

Monday Diboll City Council decided not to remove the items, instead the decision was made to form a cemetery board that will decide the rules and guidelines. "It's us having to update our rules and regulations to allow people to mourn within good taste," explains McDuffie.

Jones agrees, she said, 'A cemetery board would be the best idea for this."

The city and the families members are hoping the board will come to a fair decision.

"There's a difference in opinion but somewhere in there, there's a middle ground they'll be an answer for everybody," said McDuffie.

The city is taking names of those interested in the joining the board, the requirements are you either to have a family member buried at Forest Haven or you must own a burial plot there.

Anyone interested should contact the Diboll's City Secretary.

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