Vidor cemetery sparks outrage - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

Vidor cemetery sparks outrage

VIDOR - Sitting at the grave of her daughter Emma Lee, Britni Chandler was in shock at what she saw at Restlawn Memorial Park in Vidor on Wednesday.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about her, and they can't do this, they just can't do this," said Chandler.

In an open patch of grass at the cemetery sits a massive, messy pile of items that once adorned the graves of people's loved ones.

“All these families are hurt by it, I certainly am, 'cause I've got a lot of family out here," said Vidor resident Steven Dorn.

Cemetery manager Ronald Higgins told 12News the mementos were removed after the cemetery started receiving complaints about the trashy appearance caused by items placed on graves. Higgins says due to the complaints, the cemetery is now strictly enforcing rules already in place that state the only personal items allowed on graves are bronze vases for flowers and a shepherd's hook from which items can hang.

“I understand why people are upset, but we don't mean to upset people, we're just trying to clean the cemetery up to make the cemetery look better," said Higgins.

Higgins says notices were posted at the front office and an ad warning people about the cleanup effort ran in The Vidorian newspaper for several weeks. However, many people never saw the ad, and weren’t aware of the situation until hearing about it on Facebook.

“They make it very hard to be able to buy a headstone out here… and then when we put something we can afford out here they chuck it," said Brandi Broussard, who recently buried her father at Restlawn.

Higgins says the items were originally placed in neat rows, only becoming disorganized after people started rummaging through them. Dozens showed up Wednesday to sort through the mess, trying to find the tokens so near and dear to them.

Chandler told us she will not leave her daughter's graveside until she knows it will be left untouched, but the cemetery appears to be standing by its decision.

Higgins says he's already gotten compliments from some people who are happy about the cleanup effort.

He also said that he thinks the cemetery could have done a better job letting people know that this would be happening. He said the items will be left out for about 2 more weeks before they are either thrown away or stored in a barn at the cemetery.
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