2006-07-29

Oconee Hill Cemetery

Whenever you read about the historic Oconee Hill Cemetery in the local newspaper or a UGA website, one glaring fact is omitted:

Visitors are not welcome.

I continue to collect the stories of encounters at the cemetery. The overseer is said to rudely confront anyone that visits, even if they have a relative buried there. He also tells them that the cemetery is "private property," despite the fact it is publicly owned.

I'm assuming that the trustees of the cemetery have the right to limit access, and I understand that their policies are driven by the need to control the horrendous level of vandalism that the place has suffered, activities which hurt families with relatives buried there and deprive our community of historic items. However, it is not a good idea to be rude to the members of your community.

This has prompted me to begin looking into the history and management of this public cemetery, a place that is a public resource and not private property. I also hope to figure out how to find the charter for the board of trustees. If anyone has any information, please share it here or send me an email.

Comments received

Dean Maddox: I, too have attempted to visit a gravesite in Oconee Hill Cemetery and was turned away by the caretaker. He wasn't rude or gruff but he did tell me that the cemetery was private and he wouldn't tell me the location of the grave I was looking for. If this really is a publicly owned cemetery, Board of Trustees or not, they must allow access to the public. The older section is in great disrepair. I understand the vandalism concern but just how many vandals do you think would ask for directions for a specific grave? If anyone knows where Coach Wally Butts, Coach Bill Hartman, and Crawford Long are, I'd be grateful. I live in Savannah but I visit the cemetery every time I'm in Athend. I just drive in and I never get a second look. I guess he thinks I know exactly what I'm looking for.

rh: I visited the Oconee Hill Cemetary recently, or should I say attempted to visit? The sexton was extremely rude and hostile. I was driving to a gravesite when he approached me and bombarded me with a million questions. I felt disrespected because his tone of voice was very threatening. I do believe the graveyard needs an attendant to watch out for any inappropriate behavior or vandalism but to harass relatives and visitors is extemely disrespectful. He had a very belittling tone and even used profanity. I will speak to the board of tustees asap. I was told that Robert E. Gibson could be contacted about these matters.

2006-07-04

Lawn Chair Brigade and elected officials on bikes

At long last, we went to check out the Independence Day parade put together by the Green Acres and Crestwood neighborhood. I finally got to see the wacky lawn chair brigade, and we were pleasantly surprised to watch States McCarter and Heidi Davison ride by on bicycles. The ABH reports that the parade ends at the neighborhood pool, so now we know why they carry lawn chairs down the street.

See the lawn chair brigade video or browse the photo album with photos of the parade.