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Group cleans up cemetery after residents have trouble finding tombstones

By Trevor Sochocki and James Paxson

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    BAY CITY, Michigan (WNEM) — A mid-Michigan man driving by a cemetery noticed the upkeep of the grounds were left in poor condition. He and a group of others decided to take matters into their own hands to clean it up.

The group took several hours away from their holiday weekend to help families pay their respects to lost loved ones.

“Made me angry that nobody could really go see their people to pay them respect. Because you couldn’t, you couldn’t even find the tombstones,” said Andrew McDonald, Hampton Township resident.

McDonald was driving by Green Ridge Cemetery in Bay City when he saw leaf bags outside.

“Oh, when I walked in Saturday night, you couldn’t even see the tombstones. The grass was above the tombstones. It was just very saddening that that’s the way that the owners have left it,” McDonald said.

The cemetery became such an eye sore the community decided to do something about it.

“Sunday, we spent about nine and a half hours out there with me, my daughter, my son, my buddy Doug, and my brother came out and helped for a while and then a couple other people that stopped out with a riding lawnmower, a push lawnmower that helped for probably two, three hours getting it done,” McDonald said.

He estimated about eight people helped. McDonald does not know anyone buried at Green Ridge.

“There was actually markers that we found through the timeframe we were there that we unburied that were totally covered for people that were in world wars, just very disrespectful. Hurts inside that it’s like that,” McDonald said.

He has seen people turn around and almost leave the cemetery because they cannot find a grave. He pulled them back and cleared the site as best as he could.

“I’m not one to wait for something like that when you get it taken care of before, they just drag their feet,” McDonald said.

Covenant Cemetery Services owns Green Ridge. The company is not related to the hospital and medical centers.

In a phone call with TV5, President Michael Butts said they wanted to clean up the grass and weeds before Memorial Day, but the weather and staffing shortages prevented that from happening.

Butts said the overgrowth would be cleaned up by the end of this week. He said he will have to check on the gravestones before they can be fixed.

McDonald said he contacted the city to get a blight permit for the cemetery. If it’s not kept up, he and the community will continue doing it themselves. He said they would love more help.

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