PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Hundreds of people are buried at Jackson County Memorial Park in Pascagoula. The cemetery was once a source of pride in the community. In recent years though, that pride has turned into disappointment, as the cemetery fell into disrepair and was placed in court ordered receivership.
The auction of the property by the secretary of state's office could improve the outlook for the 16 acre property.
Jimmy Heidelberg is the attorney and court appointed trustee overseeing the receivership. He explained what happened.
"The owners and the operators didn't collect or at least they didn't account for the perpetual care money that was required by statute. It wasn't deposited and it wasn't spent properly for the upkeep of the cemetery."
Some of that upkeep has been done for free by Steve Jordan. His company, Turfmasters, has spent about $80,000 cutting the grass at the cemetery for the past several years.
"I was just here and I had the capabilities to do it, and I want to say that our community has been so appreciative of what I've done. They have supported my business, so it was just my way of giving back," Jordan said.
Marcel Kinnard lives across the street from the cemetery. You can see it from his front door. He sees the potential of a new owner.
"I think it's a good idea. It will make the neighborhood a lot better. I notice that they keep the grass cut and if they do any renovations on it then it should be good for the property value in this area," Kinnard said.
T.J. Sherman agrees. He walks through the cemetery several days a week.
"I think it's a good idea. Sure do. It needs to be upgraded, it's been rundown for a while," Sherman said.
There's no doubt that owning and managing a cemetery is a labor and cost intensive endeavor, not anyone can do it. But attorney Heidelberg feels confident someone can be found and do the right job.
"There is additional property out there that you can sell for plots and if they can generate enough income and investment properly, then a private operator can keep the cemetery up, keep it maintained for those to be buried out there and the one's that already are."
That could bring a peace of mind that hasn't been seen here in years.
All liens against the property have now been settled, clearing it for auction.
Bids must be submitted to:
Office of the Secretary of State, Attn: Dave Scott
700 North Street
Jackson, MS 39202
Bids must be received into the Secretary of State's office no later than 5:00 pm, Monday, February 3, 2014. Bids will be opened 10:00 am, Tuesday, February 4, 2014.
For a copy of the bid package, or for more information, contact Dave Scott, Assistant Secretary of State for Regulation and Enforcement at (601) 359-6747.