Cemetery clean-up criticized in Fort Meade

Posted at 11:31 PM, Apr 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-13 00:30:53-04
During Tuesday night's city council meeting, Fort Meade residents expressed their anger, sadness, and frustrations about how cemeteries were recently cleaned up following a new ordinance.
"I really do agree it needed clean-up, but I think it was over kill," one woman said.
Under the new ordinance, items like flowers, statues, and stuff animals were removed from grave sites and taken to the Fort Meade city barn for people to pick up. Those items are not allowed at the cemeteries under the new ordinance if the city decides it's too much.
"How can we go down there and cope with losing a loved one, when we can't go down there and make it look like they're not gone?" another woman said.
Residents, who visit loved ones at the cemeteries, feel their family was disrespected because they said the memorials were destroyed and not cleaned up. Residents want the city council to change the new ordinance soon.
"No one has ever mentioned to me that they had a problem with my families section," the woman told the city council.
City Manager Fred Hilliard defended the work the staff did to clean up the cemeteries.
"The staff followed the rules to the best of their ability to make sure that things…the area got cleaned up," Hilliard said.
Hilliard told ABC Action News he does not believe there is anything wrong with the new ordinance.
"We were given a directive. The commission adopted the resolution. It's my job to enforce and I do it," Hilliard said.
The mayor said he would like the cemetery board to meet to review the new ordinance to determine whether changes need to be made to it. Mayor Jim Watts said the meeting has not been scheduled yet.
"I sympathize with everyone, but I see both sides too," Mayor Watts said.