Volunteers Eye Antioch Cemetery For "Atrocious" Conditions, Need Help


By Catalina Trivino

From Montgomery -- several members of the Lincoln Cemetery Rehabilitation Authority (LCRA) resigned last month from working on the cemetery's restoration project, after city leaders allowed a burial to take place despite a city ordinance against it. But now, those members have a new project. And they need your help.

The Antioch Cemetery actually faces Interstate 85 near Montgomery's Mitylene exit (exit 11).  While it doesn't look so bad from here, it's what's behind these woods that puts this cemetery in worse shape than how they found Lincoln Cemetery.

On this portion of Antioch Cemetery, the grass isn't high; graves aren't uncovered.

But look past the trees, and what you'll find are more than five acres filled with hundreds of graves...

"The conditions are horrible. They're atrocious. As you can see, you've got open graves, graves covered with debris, it doesn't look like anybody's been back here to cut the trees or whathave you," Said Denis Hardin. She's a former volunteer with the LCRA, now taking on the Antioch Cemetery project.

It's a cemetery that's existed since 1819. Now, left without a caretaker -- with limbs and trash covering headstones and broken vaults. Our news crew even found uncovered bones.

But where does Antioch Cemetery stand compared to Lincoln Cemetery?

"It is 10 times worse. It is so bad and you look at the over-growth and we don't have the equipment we had at Lincoln. We don't have chainsaws, we dont have hacksaws. Lord, I don't know what you would need back here. A bushhog, maybe?" Said Hardin.

Hardin says volunteers will need that type of heavy equipment to make any serious improvements at Antioch Cemetery. Because as you can see, the trails are almost non-existent....

"Be careful stepping over the limbs that are down," Said Phillip Taunton as he walked our crew through the trail. "This will be our first project where we'll have to at least make some trails out here where people can actually walk through the cemetery."
Taunton was one of the volunteers who quit the LCRA last month. But he's decided to return as Chairman. Not only taking on the Lincoln Cemetery project, but Antioch, too. He calls it a more tedious project, but says the change they'll see in the end will be all worth it.

"We're excted about it. We've already received e-mails from some of the concerned citizens that are wanting to help us," Said Taunton.

You can help, too. The first clean up at Antioch Cemetery will take place on August 2 at 9 a.m. Volunteers are asked to bring any equipment they can (chainsaws, rakes, saws, blowers, etc.).

For more information, you can also e-mail Phillip Taunton at  philliptaunton@yahoo.com