Volunteers prepare Galilee Cemetery to re-open for Memorial Day

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BARTLETT, Tenn. -- The state reopened Galilee Memorial Gardens in Bartlett for the Memorial Day holiday.

The cemetery closed after officials discovered the owner buried bodies on other people's land and actually stacked them on top of each other.

Fresh flowers and mulch were placed at the entry way of Galilee Gardens to greet relatives as the state reopens the cemetery for Memorial Day.

"A huge part of our ministry is we believe the work of our church actually belongs outside the church. This has been a sore spot in the neighborhood, not casting any blame, we want to be part of the healing," said Warren Knabb, Faith Baptist Church volunteer.

Cemetery owner Jamar Lambert pleaded guilty in March to burying bodies on someone else's land and even stacking them on top of each other.

The cemetery stayed roped off with crime scene tape for months.

"I know whenever I want to go to my family's graveyard. I can. I know where they are and I couldn't imagine not being sure about that," said Knabb.

The cemetery officially shut down January 2014 but that hasn't stopped Celeste Mitchner and her family from checking on her grandmother's grave anyway.

"They've been worrying to see if she's actually still there and see if she's one of the mass people that got buried with somebody else. So, that's why we want answers, want to know where's she's at, if she's really there where her tombstone is," she said.

Monday a special ceremony is planned for 3 p.m.

Faith Baptist Church said it would offer free shuttles, and a flower shop will give out roses.

Mithcner was thankful so many pitched in and wished the gates could stay open permanently.

"It's been closed for so long and a lot of people been wondering when we actually can come here free willing to see them without one day. We want more than one day to be with them," said Mitchner.

The state of Tennessee told WREG it wants to allow families to come and visit Galilee Memorial Gardens and their loved ones, but at this point there's still too many unanswered questions, namely about who's actually buried where.

There will be no parking at the cemetery.

All visitors must catch the shuttle at Faith Baptist Church t 3755 North Germantown Road in Bartlett.

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