Fall River mayor trying to fix cemetery misstep

Oak Grove Cemetery in Fall River

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — Leadership changes have been made in the wake of a cemetery issue in Fall River.

Mayor Jasiel Correia apologized to city residents negatively impacted by a cleanup at Oak Grove Cemetery.

He also announced that John Perry, a Dept. of Public Works manager, has been named interim cemetery director.  Perry replaces Nancy Smith who resigned from the cemetery portion of her duties.

The issue started in the spring after the board of parks and cemeteries ordered a clean up of prohibited items, including silk flowers, trinkets and candles.

During the last few months, the issue escalated after the clean up came to include stone urns, boxes, borders.  Some of those items had to be dug up to be removed.

“And they say, well if you can prove that that was your urn they’ll put it back, but how do you prove that?” City councilor Raymond Mitchell said the damage has already been done, “it’s a black eye on Fall River which we didn’t need.”

The mayor said the city’s police department is also investigating reports of items being stolen after they were removed from graves.

The council plans to take up the cemetery issue at its meeting Tuesday, Nov. 1.