Families frustrated over conditions of Modesto Citizens Cemetery

Families are frustrated over the conditions of overgrown grass and weeds at the Modesto Citizens Cemetery.
 
Modesto resident Rebecca Nunez's mother and little cousin are buried here. 
 
"I thought it was beautiful with the older headstones," said Nunez. "At the time it was really well kept and I looked at a lot of places and I saw a beautiful tree to put them by."
 
The view in the past few years has changed.
 
"It's frustrating when you have to step over weeds just as tall as you," said Nunez. "It's heartbreaking sometimes. We're heartbroken that's my boy and my momma and I feel like I've let them down putting them in a place like this."
 
The issue isn't so clear cut according to superintendent Timothy Copenhaver. He's the one person employed to clean up the cemetery. 
 
"It's kind of gotten carried away," said Copenhaver. "I've been mowing back since last Thursday. We're a nonprofit organization. We have very short funds."
 
The families pay toward an endowment fund that is invested. However the fund was created in the early 1900's and those investments made back then have depreciated.
 
"It goes into an endowed care which is what they take and it goes into investments in the market," said Copenhaver. "The sad thing is that what was invested way before us the invested $200,000 it's nowhere near that money. We can't sell it off because it's connected to the state."
 
Volunteers are hard to get. They need to go through proper training because the older tombstones are irreplaceable.
 
"I tried to get donations a few years ago," said Copenhaver. "We sent a donation letter to some of the corporations and the sad thing is they say they don't donate cash."
 
Copenhaver's mother and great grandmother are buried at the cemetery. The conditions are hard for him to see but he says he's unable to get the job done with the hours they pay him and some days he voluntarily puts in extra hours. 
 
Copenhaver said if the cemetery continues this financial track it may be forced to close.

© 2017 KXTV-TV


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