Pictured: Several tombstones at the Old Collins Cemetery are overcome with high grass and weeds. Photo by OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

Old Collins is overrun with tall grass, trash

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Velma Soulas Rivera often goes to the Old Collins Cemetery to clean the area near her family's plots, but said the work has become overwhelming as she tries to keep up with other plots that are neglected.

"I've been cutting the grass around other people's (plots), but it's too much," Rivera said Monday. "You can't see over the fence, it's very high."

Rivera wants to remind the community to make time and clean out their family's plot or if they don't have anyone there, make some time to volunteer.

Rivera said she visits the Old Collins Cemetery regularly and is concerned the old tombs are being forgotten by family members.

"Don't let my or your loved ones be the forgotten ones," she said. "Remember them today, tomorrow and always."

Rivera hopes to encourage community members to bring out their lawnmowers, weedeaters and chainsaws to get the cemetery in tip-top shape. When visiting the cemetery Monday, Rivera pointed out the overgrown grass, piles of brush sitting by the side of the muddy caliche road and tomb stones that are falling apart and some overcome by weeds.

"It's terrible, it's been like this for quite a while," she said. "There was garbage from people's homes, I took it home to throw away. It looked bad with food coming out of the bag."

Rivera said if everyone would do their part, the cemetery would be easier to keep up with. But still she is left with questions about who is responsible for the cemetery's maintenance.

County officials said the main responsibility is the owner of each plot and the families should keep it clean. Pct. 1 County Commissioner secretary Norma Casas said that to help with the upkeep, Commissioner Zenaida Sanchez hosts a Collins Cemetery clean up twice a year. Once in November, during Soul's Day and another around Easter time.

"It's all on a volunteer basis," Casas said. "When we did our cleaning we found tires and things that people dump there. Each family is responsible for the plots, but no one is in charge of it."

Calls to the city public works were not returned Monday. Rivera said there used to be a city dumpster on the Old Collins side of the cemetery, but it has been removed, so people throw their trash along the roadside.

"I'm just hoping that people come out and help cut the grass and branches and if they have relatives here, they can help by doing a little more to help those that can't do it," she said.