UPDATE| Community Members Come Together To Cleanup Cherokee Memory Gardens

WEIS Radio reported on Friday about several concerns local and area residents have had concerning the condition and operation of the cemetery at Cherokee Memory Gardens. Among those concerns is the upkeep and maintenance at the facility including such things as keeping the grass mowed and manicured which obviously had not been done in quiet some time…well, until Saturday that is.

Several local and area residents showed up at the cemetery with trucks and trailer loads of lawn mowers and weed eaters and spent much of the day cutting the grass and sprucing up the grounds. One local resident who was at the cemetery helping out told us “this place looks better than its ever looked”. 

We will continue to follow the issues surrounding Cherokee Memory Gardens and will have additional information as new details are available.

Previously Reported:

In recent weeks many local residents and people with ties to the Cherokee County area have been asking what is going on with the Cherokee Memory Garden Cemetery. Social media has been busy during the past two weeks with much speculation, questions about what to do with their cemetery plots where their loved ones are buried.  It has not been mowed, the Memory Garden Flower Shop is closed where people once went to pay on their cemetery plots and preneed funerals, there are potholes in the road through the cemetery, the mausoleum appears to be in disrepair.

According to information obtained by WEIS Radio News, Mary Usry owns the stock to the corporation which owns the Cemetery and  according to Public Records of the State of Alabama there are more than $200,000 in liens filed against the Cemetery Properties.

WEIS Radio news spoke with a representative of the Department Of Insurance Preneed Department to find out those who own cemetery plots at Cherokee Memory Gardens can go mow and clean their plots. At this time there is no management for the Cemetery, so those who own plots can still use them when time comes. Families are responsible for having the graves opened and closed, the purchase and use of vaults, and grave markers cost and installation.

The representative with the State Preneed Department told us those who purchased Preneed Funerals, vaults, markers or any other merchandise not yet utilized will lose their money. It seems there are more than a half million dollars in preneed merchandise and services sold that is unfunded. Those who have purchased space in the Mausoleum should have their paper work for that and will have it as it is. The Mausoleum is unfinished and the officials with the State Insurance Department have concerns about proper maintenance of the facility. Cherokee Memory Gardens has $3000 in the Merchandise and Service Trust Fund with the State and $30,000 in the Endowment Care Trust Fund. Those who feel they have been victimized by Memory Gardens can file a police report with the City of Centre.

 Johnny Usry, Mary Usry, Cherokee Memory Garden, nor anyone associated with the operation were licensed with the State of Alabama Insurance Department to sell Preneed Funeral Arrangements. According to the Department, the Usry’s received a substantial fine for selling Preneed arrangements without proper licensing by the State.

Consumer information is available  on a website, It is www.aldoi.gov/preneed then follow the links to the Consumer Assistant Tab.

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