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‘It’s a dump’: Upkeep concerns about historic Las Cruces cemetery

St. Joseph's Cemetery in Las Cruces
A nameless cross sits on a grave plot at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Las Cruces.

LAS CRUCES, New Mexico -- A Las Cruces woman who first reached out to ABC-7 back in 2017 feels not much has changed in the three years since her complains about the upkeep of St. Joesph's Cemetery in central Las Cruces.

However, the Catholic Diocese of Las Cruces says the situation is about to improve.

Julie Leonard told ABC-7 that she typically visits the 160-year-old cemetery, despite not having any family buried there. She says over time the landscaping has been neglected.

"The water hasn't been turned on, it hasn’t been raked, the trash has not been picked up," Leonard said. "It's a dump."

Leonard's concerned families won't be able to identify their loved ones graves. She claims heavy rain has pushed headstones, also noting that wooden crosses with no names have been placed where some bodies are buried.

Families are in charge of taking care of the plots, while St. Genevieve's Parish is in charge of maintaining the cemetery.

The Diocese of Las Cruces told ABC-7 that much of the maintenance had been done by volunteers, but those efforts were halted because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I know the parish did have a meeting a few weeks ago and definitely wanted to address the way it currently is. The parish hired someone to be a cemetery groundskeeper," said Christopher Velasquez, a spokesman for the diocese.

Velasquez added that the groundskeeper just started during the last few days

As for the nameless crosses, Velasquez said more than 400 were added to cemetery burial plots that have eroded - so it's a long process to get the names added to all of those.

Velasquez indicated a lack of resources is to blame for the length of time it has taken to get improvements made to the cemetery.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

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Brianna Chavez


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