Mothers distressed over appearance of Ascension Parish cemetery

Mothers distressed over appearance of local cemetery
Renee Samuel and Licia Chaney (Source: WAFB)
Renee Samuel and Licia Chaney (Source: WAFB)
Brandi Chaney (Source: Chaney Family)
Brandi Chaney (Source: Chaney Family)
Chad Brown's headstone (Source: WAFB)
Chad Brown's headstone (Source: WAFB)

PRAIRIEVILLE, LA (WAFB) - Two mothers with children buried in a cemetery in Ascension Parish said they are so disgusted with the grounds that they are about to have their loved one's bodies moved.

Tall oak trees beckon visitors to Oak Lane Memorial Park off of Highway 73 in Prairieville. Flowers adorn most burial sites. From a distance it appears the grounds are well maintained, except for one section where Renee Samuel was hard at work.

"I've actually been here for three days. This is the third day. I've got about a total of 20 hours that I've been out here doing this," Samuel said.

Samuel is installing artificial turf over her son, Chad Brown's grave. Brown, a volunteer firefighter, died when his motorcycle crashed nearly five years ago.  Renee visits as often as she can, but lately, she said it has been challenging especially after it rains.

"It's very aggravating. Sometimes it's like you can't walk to the headstone you have to go to because of the mud," Samuel said.

Leaves are scattered across the cemetery and wedged between many of the headstones. Part of the property is covered with weeds.

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Samuel is doing what she can to make her son's plot more presentable. But, she said, she should not have to. According to her contract with the cemetery, they are supposed to care for and maintenance the grounds.

"We paid for this. Why do we have to come out here and do it," Samuel said.

Just several feet away, Licia Chaney, is visiting her daughter Brandi who lost her battle with ovarian cancer four years ago.

"I try at least once a week. My husband visits one or twice a week," Chaney said.

Chaney, too, is unhappy with the way the cemetery looks. So much so, she has yet to purchase a headstone for Brandi's grave. She said she is worried it will sink.

"When it rains the water just comes and tends to sit right here (in front of the headstone)," Chaney said.

Chaney said she noticed the problems started popping up before the cemetery's new owner, Larry Dob, took over a couple of years ago. But she said her agreement with Oak Lane still stands and she, like Samuel, expects better.

"I'm really hoping whoever owns it now is going to do what is supposed to be done with this place and she can stay here because my entire family wants her here," Chaney said.

"I'm at a point where I would just prefer for them to buy the plots back from me that I have and pay to have him moved," Samuel said.

Dob's attorney, Jill Craft, said her client inherited a lot of the issues with the cemetery from its previous owner. But, she said, he is trying to fix some of the problems.

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