City steps in to save overgrown, abandoned cemetery

VIDEO: City steps in to save overgrown, abandoned cemetery

CENTRALIA, Wash. — Years of abandonment and neglect turned a Lewis County cemetery into a jungle.

“The first thing I thought of was watching Jumanji with my kids. That's kind of, unfortunately, what it looks like. The jungle is just growing at a rapid pace and taking over the cemetery with blackberries growing everywhere. It's sad, it's really shameful,” said Centralia City Manager Rob Hill.

Greenwood Cemetery is the final resting spot for more than 2,000 people, including fathers, mothers, children and people who fought for our freedom.

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"It's important to me and my family that they be respected in their final resting place and not left in a field of debris,” said Marveen Rohr, whose family is buried at the cemetery.

Her parents, Marvin and Helen, moved to Centralia in the early 1900s. Her father was full of life and loved music. Her mother worked hard to take care of four kids.

Seeing the cemetery in this condition is tough for Rohr.

Shrubs grow out of gravesites, some vaults are broken and tarped and others lay covered in thick moss.

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"It's super sad, you can't even read some of them to know who they are,” said volunteer Tabitha Baldwin.

With the help of Hill, Rohr took her fight to the Capitol.

She inspired lawmakers to pass legislation that gives people legal access to clean up private cemeteries. They also got close to $500,000 to fix up Greenwood.

"Every dime of that money is going to go into the facility,” Hill said. “Cleaning off all of these vaults, getting that moss off of there, and then, this summer, working on painting those vaults and bringing everything back to a very clean appearance."

Rohr said her parents would be honored.

"You saw me smile. My parents would be so proud, so very proud,” she said.

There is a scheduled cleanup at Greenwood Cemetery on Saturday morning. Volunteers are asked to bring supplies to help.