Mourners call unkept grounds at Donna city cemetery 'disrespectful'

Donna City Cemetery

Al Torres makes a living cleaning tombstones at the Donna City Cemetery.

"This guy got killed a long time ago and they want to have the grave look nice and all that for a long time," he said.

Some people pay him more than a hundred dollars per job.

He says mourners will spend the money to honor the dead.

But Al wonders why the city won't do the same with the upkeep of the cemetery grounds.

"There's a lot of work to be done here but maybe they don't have enough help," he said. "I don't know."

Cemetery conditions in spots include graffiti, tall grass and trash.

Portions of the cemetery are so overgrown that gravestones can't be read.

"It's pretty bad," Frank Yanez said. "Pretty bad."

Frank has a long list of loved ones buried at the 100 year old cemetery.

He's frustrated with the lack of maintenance and believes people can't properly grieve.

"It's a little bit disrespectful all the way through," he said.

Action 4's Ryan Wolf showed Donna's City Manager Oscar Ramirez pictures of problem areas.

"You have weeds growing over a tombstone," Oscar said while looking at one photo.

He says the city takes full responsibility for the cemetery's decline and blames it on economic constraints.

"We had to tighten our belt so we minimized the number of employees that we have," he explained. "The cemetery, unfortunately, they only have 1 employee for half the day."

That's 1 worker responsible for 11 acres off South Avenue between 13th and 15th Streets.

Oscar admits a solo 4-hour shift won't cut it anymore and will require total city involvement.

"Whether it's cutting the grass, picking up trash, whether it's having the police department do more drive-arounds... we need to make sure that we maintain that level of respect to people who have passed away," the city manager said.

Al hopes to see the job get done for both the living and the dead.

"If they were looking down they would be pretty upset believe me," he said.

The city manager promised to have things addressed by the end of the week.

He also adds how citizens can raise concerns by downloading a complaint form online or picking one up at city hall.

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