By SARAH BRADBURY
A local woman is outraged at the condition of the grounds at Roselawn Memorial Gardens, 2880 N Franklin Street, Christiansburg, stating they are damaged, disrespected and unsafe. Tina Grimshaw of Claytor Lake went to visit the grave of her sister Friday, Feb. 7, and was greeted with muddy tire marks throughout the cemetery and directly on top of graves and grave markers. Grimshaw said these tracks left large holes in the ground which made the terrain difficult to navigate.
Roselawn Memorial Gardens is owned by Stonemor Cemeteries, a corporation that has 277 cemeteries and 90 funeral homes in 28 states and Puerto Rico, including 31 cemeteries and two funeral homes in Virginia.
According to burialplanning.com, a network which includes Roselawn Memorial Gardens, “Burial plots (are) guaranteed to remain beautiful. All plots in the BurialPlanning.com cemetery network are pristinely maintained by dedicated grounds and landscaping crews. Our burial plot costs include Perpetual Care Ground Maintenance to ensure that your area will always remain green and attractive – a calming place for your loved ones to visit and reflect fondly on your life.”
After finally pinning him down, Donald Green, head of grounds, construction and maintenance at the Stonemor Partners regional office in Mechanicsville, gave minimal response when asked for his thoughts on the condition of the grounds. “Well, actually I am not allowed to make comments to the media, but I will say we’ve had a lot of bad weather,” said Green.
Grimshaw said this is not the first time the cemetery has looked like this. “Last year, right before Easter, I went to make a payment on my plot and there was a huge mess. Mr. Green promised me the mess would be gone by Easter so I could bring my mother to visit my sisters. He didn’t fix it by Easter, so my mother never got to come,” said Grimshaw, whose mother passed away in August.
When asked if he did make the promise, Green’s response was, “Well, I can’t guarantee that.”
According to Grimshaw, Thomas Price, sales manager at Roselawn, said Green saw the mess in Christiansburg last week and did nothing. Grimshaw said she was told by Price that he called maintenance to come and at least dump the trash, which she says they did not. “Yes I did (see the mess),” Green admitted. “Friday at 5 p.m. every single trash can was overflowed,” said Grimshaw. “When I took my flowers up there I couldn’t even find a trash can to put my flowers in
“My sister almost fell when I took her out to see the damage,” said Grimshaw, who said no safety precautions have been taken and there are no cones or caution tape. Grimshaw said she asked Green who would be liable if someone fell on the grounds while visiting a loved one, and she said he replied that the company would be responsible. “Why would they not have enough sense to put up caution tape?” Grimshaw asked of Green.
Grimshaw said plywood is usually placed on the graves when potentially damaging work is being done on the grounds. “From the looks of the pictures, you can tell this has not been done, except for in one case where Plywood was lying across another grave, next to a fresh one,” said Grimshaw. She said Green told her he saw the damage last week and mentioned plywood to his crew at that time
“I was told by Mr. Green they needed to do more training.” Grimshaw said Green told her there should have been some improvements made by now. Green supervises maintenance in several areas spanning beyond here to Richmond. Grimshaw feels this is a large part of the problem and wonders how he is able to supervise an area that large.
Grimshaw is not the only one taking issue with the cemetery. Mildred Whitescarver of Christiansburg had something to say as well. “I went over Monday to speak with Thomas (Price). He couldn’t tell me much. I rode around then walked around the cemetery,” said Whitescarver.
Whitescarver said she approached Price in the office where he allegedly told her all he could do was sales. “I saw the maintenance man as I was leaving. I asked him why he had to make such a mess of these families’ final resting places. He stated that he had to!” Whitescarver said she then asked if he had lost anyone that he loved or cared for and claims “he laughed in my face! … I thought the video and pictures were bad, but it was nothing until you saw it in person! No remorse or no respect, something needs to be done.”
Grimshaw said another friend of hers had a relative buried there recently and “They didn’t even put enough dirt in to fill the grave.”
Grimshaw said she was told by Green that a whole crew would be on site and there will be some discussion with the superintendent again of what was required.
When asked what has been done since the recent complaints have been made, Price said, “I have passed everything to upper management and it’s been handled.”