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Judge Visits Blighted Cemeteries, Businesses Step Up

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(Memphis) Environmental Court Judge Larry Potter called Mt. Carmel and Hollywood Cemeteries in south Memphis the worst he has seen in his career after a sight visit Thursday.

“I did not have any concept as to the nature of the problem until I went. The problems are massive,” said Judge Potter in court Thursday.

For those who have loved ones buried at the cemeteries, it seemed like they might never get help after the owners abandoned the properties earlier this year.

“The last time we were in court it was very depressing because there was no action taken,” said Alice Waller whose grandmother is buried at the cemetery.

But the media attention might’ve changed the outlook for the cemeteries. Two young Memphis business owners decided to step up and help out after seeing the story.

“Twenty-two acres, that’s a lot of man power,” said Edwin Dorsey owner of Grace Superior Cleaning who volunteered to help out.

An email from Dorsey and his business partner to Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell has resulted in the county getting involved.

“We will be looking at what resources county government has in order to help out. We’ve got teams of inmates that go out every day cutting county lots all over the city. We may be pulling some of those inmates and getting them into the cemeteries to see what we can do,” said Shelby County spokesman Steve Shular.

For the families of those resting at Mt Carmel and Hollywood cemeteries, they hope the collaboration will bring permanent change.

“I would like to see this done before my uncle goes home to glory,” added Waller.

Judge Potter will meet with several groups that have volunteered over the next several weeks. The case is also set to be back in his courtroom on November 7 to work out a long-term solution.