We're back in the land of the dearly departed this week.
Concerned Reader Linda Ames writes this week about the conditions at Porterdale Cemetery, specifically the pauper's section down at the western end.
"I was at Porterdale cemetery today and noticed new burials within the past year or so. I also noticed this area of grave sites lacks a certain degree of order and care. I don't know if this section is a pauper section or not. (It is.) Nonetheless, it is a true shame that some of these graves are clearly not well cared for, and in many instances, appear to be a dumping ground rather than a burial.
"Everyone deserves the dignity of an appropriate burial and grave, pauper or not. I realize the city cuts the grass and is limited in their ability to keep up with care the way Parkhilldoes. However, Riverdale, city-owned like Porterdale and East Porterdale, is in the process of upgrades, new walkways, a renovated office space, etc. and is certainly getting its share of financial support, I imagine through the Riverdale-Porterdale Foundation, Inc."
Well, Linda, I've learned a lot about cemeteries, public and private, since starting this column last year. And one of the things I've learned is that the city does not spend enough to care for its 120 acres of cemetery spread out over four places -- Linwood, Riverdale, Porterdale and East Porterdale.
Maybe it's because dead folks don't vote (except now and then in Phenix City, but that's a story for another day). And they can't go before Columbus Council and ask that their digs, so to speak, get more attention.
But in the city's defense, they do spend a good bit of money on pauper burials, which is something some communities do not do. If a family can't afford to bury a loved one, the taxpayers will pay for it, at about $400 per burial.
Then Deborah Abraham, city cemetery division manager, does a great job keeping the grounds looking good. But the fact is, there just isn't any way she can do things like restoring old crumbling grave markers to make the place look like a private cemetery.
The good news is that the three cemeteries at the south end of 10th Avenue have the Riverdale-Porterdale Cemetery Foundation to pitch in and help.
The foundation's only been around for about five years, but they've already raised and spent a lot of money and put in a lot of hours at the cemeteries. And they have plans to fix all three up even more in the future, according to Hal Averett, president of the foundation.
And don't worry, Linda, that will include the pauper's section.
We'll keep you posted as those plans evolve. Meanwhile, if you'd like to pitch in physically or financially, write to the Riverdale-Porterdale Foundation Inc., P.O. Box 5128, Columbus, GA 31906, or browse around its website, riverdaleporterdale.org.
And before we go, we should also point out that about 100 volunteers from Fort Benning's Officer Candidate School went out to Riverdale on Saturday and put in a day's work on the veteran section, and plans are for them to return to Porterdale this Saturday. Thanks, guys.
City building inspector Rebecca Wiggins, informed last week of a potentially dangerous garage on 17th Avenue, behind a house on Richard Street, said she'd investigate and see what could be done. The shrubbery around the house is also terribly overgrown, causing a neighbor to complain about the neighborhood eyesore.
Wiggins wrote me this week to say she'd spoken to the owner, who said she will clean up the yard and bushes in the next week or so and then have the garage taken down within a month or so.
Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or firstname.lastname@example.org.