A pot of flowers and cotton branches sit near the grave of Gene Norris Wednesday at New Live Oak Cemetery. Norris’ wife, Mary Ann Norris, said she and several others who have family members buried at New Live Oak, have noticed their flowers have been removed by cemetery officials.--Jay Sowers
A pot of flowers and cotton branches sit near the grave of Gene Norris Wednesday at New Live Oak Cemetery. Norris’ wife, Mary Ann Norris, said she and several others who have family members buried at New Live Oak, have noticed their flowers have been removed by cemetery officials.-- Jay Sowers

Families upset over city’s removal of flowers, pots

Published 11:34pm Saturday, October 19, 2013

A case of flowers-gone-missing at a local cemetery has several area residents scratching their heads and asking what they can do to make sure it doesn’t happen in the future.

Mary Ann Norris visits New Live Oak Cemetery several times a month to lay flowers on the graves of her late husband and her parents, and two weeks ago, Norris said, the flowers and planter she had recently placed on her husbands grave went missing.

“They were gone, and then I started to look around and I noticed that so many of the graves that always had flowers were also clear,” Norris said.

Norris then spoke with several employees at the cemetery inquiring about the disappearing flowers, and said she was led to a pile of flowers and pots that had been cleared from the cemetery.

“There was a tremendous mound of flowers, and I picked up two of those flower saddles and asked them if these looked like worn flowers,” Norris said.

Mike Pettaway, superintendent of Selma’s Cemetery Department, said the department doesn’t have a policy to remove flowers or flower pots after a certain period of time, but rather they are concerned with the general look of the cemetery.

“We really don’t have a policy, but once the flowers start looking bad or you have more than one on the grave, we’ll go through and remove the bad looking ones,” Pettaway said.

Pettaway also said some of the graveside flowers and displays can get in the way when crews are working to mow on the property.

“It’s a hassle to you try to go through there and mow or use a weed eater and you have to move that stuff out of the way, and if it’s bad and old and dirty looking, why put it back after mowing the area,” Pettaway said.

Norris said she was upset to learn the flowers and pots had been removed, especially since the flowers she put out were fake flowers and were not faded.

“They told me they had been cleaning up, and I told them you don’t have any right to take flowers off of these graves,” Norris said. “The thing that upset me the most is the pots, saddles and holders that I, and others, want to reuse.”

While she acknowledges crews have a hard job to keep the cemeteries clean, Norris said she only wishes for better communication from cemetery officials in the future.

“They don’t say anything. I’ve been out there 37 years and there is no policy that I’m aware of,” Norris said.

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