BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) –A Vietnam veteran is outraged by a lack of maintenance to some grave sites of veterans in Bainbridge.
He wants the city to clean them up. But the city says the cemetery's unclear ownership history is standing in the way.
Every year, retired Army veteran Mike Holloway makes his way around Decatur County to place American flags on the grave sites of fellow veterans. But what he found at a couple cemeteries this year overwhelmed him.
"It's heartbreaking," Holloway says. "I spent over 20 years in the military and lost some very good friends of mine."
He says the Oak City and Pineview cemeteries aren't being properly maintained.
"Some of the graves are pathetic and it's a disgrace and a shameful situation."
Holloway says he couldn't even find some of the veteran graves, like this one, because it's hidden deep in overgrown brush.
So he took his concerns to a city council meeting. The next day, a maintenance crew cleaned up the Oak City cemetery. But Pineview is on private property.
"City power on private property is slim to none," says city council member Roslyn Palmer. "If we could find the owners or heirs then we could work with them to get the paperwork to get the cemetery hopefully turned over to the city. But the history was lost over the years. Even our city attorney hasn't been able to find that out."
For two years the city has searched for the owners. And until they find one, they say their hands are tied.
"I don't think anyone would care if you trespass. They would probably be glad that it's getting done," Palmer believes. "But we can't keep going on private property and risk something happening to city employees."
"Who in their right mind would sue anyone for doing a humanitarian thing by cleaning up a grave site?" asks Holloway.
But both Holloway and the city agree, something needs to be done.
If you know anything about who may own Pineview Cemetery, or if you just want to help clean it up, call the city of Bainbridge at (229) 248-2000.