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Cemetery district addressing concerns
Specialist brought in to troubleshoot
The manager of the Porterville Cemetery District takes complaints very seriously. So, when people took their criticisms of the grounds public and directly to the District, manager Reeni Alfaro picked up the phone.
The complaints centered on brown spots and overgrown grass on headstones — mainly at Hillcrest Memorial Park. The overall condition of the entire District was also called into question.
“We brought in a specialist to look at the grounds,” said Alfaro, who has been the manager for the past two years. “We take what we do very seriously.”
Porterville resident Floyd Lay spoke at length with Alfaro personally about his disappointment with the grounds.
“She told me they would take care of it. I haven’t been out there lately to know what they’ve done. A lot of people are upset about the way it looks,” Lay told The Recorder. “People pay for the plots out there and they expect it to be taken care of.”
The Porterville Cemeteries District is comprised of eight cemeteries covering 75 acres. Ten employees, including Alfaro, prepare for funeral services and maintain the grounds. The family is responsible for the actual care of the headstone.
From Nov. 1 to April 1 crews do not remove flowers that are placed at grave sites. During the remainder of the year, they do remove them.
From time to time, these types of care issues have come up over the years, Alfaro said.
The brown spots are due to a combination of factors Alfaro said, including a hotter-than-normal July and August. To rectify these, sprinklers heads are being replaced or adjusted to cover more area. Adding more sprinklers is also an option being considered.
“We are also manually putting hoses out to green up some spots,” Alfaro said.
The grass is mowed twice a week and a weedeater is used around each headstone. Weed and grass killer is also sprayed around the headstones.
But taking priority over the maintenance are funeral services.
“We can have up to 10 services in a week,” Alfaro said, which can lead to an interruption of the mowing or weedeating.
In addition to the grounds maintenance and funeral services, the District takes on additional projects. Depending on the project, a contractor may be used.
At the moment, the road and curb around Home of Peace Cemetery is being completely redone by a contractor.
“We just ask that people be patient with us,” Alfaro said. “People are going to see improvements. It just takes some time for some to this.”
For more information, or to speak directly with Alfaro, call the Porterville Cemetery District Office at 784-1569. The office is located at 1013 E. Olive Ave.