Cutting down overgrown grass is the first step to getting Magnolia Cemetery back in shape.
“The maintenance of the roads need a lot of work. There’s just a lot of work that needs to be done,” said Jay Crane, the new owner of the cemetery.
Now under new leadership, the cemetery is seeing some rapid changes. Former owner, William Arlinghaus, was forced to sell it after numerous concerns that the property wasn’t being maintained.
The state stepped in when families complained about paying for headstones but not receiving them, overgrown grass, and neglected graves.
The state pressured Arlinghaus to sell through an injunction and court auction. Thursday ended a year-long battle between the two, when Crane purchased Arlinghaus’ two cemeteries: Magnolia Cemetery and the Meridian Memorial Park Cemetery.
“I’ve been in the funeral business for about 15 years serving families here in meridian and lauderdale county. We’re still continuing that,” said Crane.
He and his crew wasted no time getting to work.
“Friday, I came in and went in the office. We got power cut on, water cut on, just the normal things to get going.”
On Saturday, about 30 residents came with weed eaters and lawn mowers to lend a helping hand.
They were at it again this morning.
“I have relatives buried here. It was nasty and looked bad. It needed help, so I came over to clean it up,” said Richard Morgan.
Even though there’s a long to-do list, Crane is optimistic about the cemetery’s future.
“We’re just thrilled to start this new chapter in our life and get this going.”