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Your view: Take action

Sunday, August 7, 2005

To: The owners of cemetery plots at the Garden of Memories and Memorial Park Cemeteries, Sikeston.

If anyone wants to file an official complaint about the cemeteries, it will be necessary to place it in writing and send it to the Missouri Attorney General's Office and the Missouri Office of Endowed Care. I have called both offices and the following procedure must be followed according to them:

Call the Missouri Attorney General's Office at 1-800-392-8222 and tell them you want to file a complaint about the cemeteries. The Attorney General's office told me that they would send a form to be filled out by anyone who had a complaint. The office also requested any documentation that the cemetery plot owner or family might have that would support the complaint including a copy of the deed, if available. A copy of the deed is not absolutely required, but I was informed it would speed things up a bit. Please make it clear in your complaint what the problem is and what remediation you believe appropriate. These are our elected and appointed officials and I want to believe that they will do their best by each one of us.

It is a little more complicated for those who do not have a computer to complain to the Office of Endowed Care Cemeteries although it is essential to complain to as many people as necessary to correct the problem. I was informed that we must fill out the form found on Endowed Care Website. For those with computers, the Website address is: http://pr.mo.gov (all lower case). Then click "Regulated Professions" in the upper right-hand corner. Next click "Cemeteries, Endowed Care." Next click in the area below Regulated Professions - Endowed Care Cemeteries. It is located on the fourth line entitled "complaint form."

Print out the "uniform complaint form" and the instructions on the form say one must "Please type or print in black ink." Likewise it would be helpful if owner's or family members included a copy of the deed for your lots and any other documentation to support your allegations against the cemetery. All one need do is check the square entitled "Office of Endowed Care Cemeteries" on that form, then fill out the "Information About You," skip the next section and go on to page two entitled "Details of Complaint" and write to your heart's content.

I think it is important to remember that the decisions about the care of the cemetery plots are not made in Sikeston but in Houston, Texas. I believe the local personnel Woodrow and Deborah Speed can only do what they are allowed by the owners of the cemetery and that they are trying their best under difficult circumstances.

But, this problem has gone on long enough. Sikestonians are known for our resilience and this is a battle that we can win if we all join together in the fight to have our contracts honored under the promise of "Permanent Care" that is clearly stated in the deed we own.

Permanent care means permanent care. It does not mean letting grass grow nearly knee-high, lawnmowers that won't work, no money provided even for gasoline to propel the mowers, markers that are sinking and need elevating, and taking far, far, too long to have markers placed after they have been paid in advance.

Call Representative Emerson (573)-335-0101; Senator Bond (573)-334

-7044; Senator Talent (573)-651-0964; Governor Blunt (573)-751-3222 or whomever you think will help. Again, these are our elected officials and I have to believe that they have the necessary "clout" to get something done. And I do think they will help if they fully understand the desperation of our problem.

The gravesites of our loved ones deserve nothing less than our best efforts and we should be willing to fight for them since those gravesites cry out for justice. After all, a contract is a contract is a contract - even a burial deed. It is still "Offer and Acceptance" and is therefore, binding, on all of the parties.

Respectfully seeking your support for the Dignity of Loved Ones,

Buck Smith