BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Cedric McMillian owns Zion Memorial Gardens along with two other cemeteries in the area, but he’s only owned Zion Memorial since February 2015.
McMillian claimed that some complaints about his cemetery simply aren’t true and said he feels there is a witch hunt by local leaders on his place of business.
Community meetings have been held over the past couple of months where residents claim that there has been disrespectful customer service, inaccurate placement of tombstones on the wrong grave and even upkeep around the burial site.
“For a person to place a headstone at the wrong grave is virtually impossible, if that has been done, somebody just made a mistake,” McMillian said.
“We get very few complaints, we probably get sometimes three maybe four complaints in a week,” said Rodney Beasy, a maintenance supervisor at Zion Memorial Gardens.
Maintenance and upkeep has been a major complaint by clients, but McMillian said those very circumstances was the reason he purchased the property from the state of Alabama, which was to improve it, but there was a catch.
“Anything that was purchased from this cemetery, before February 4th of 2015, is the responsibility of the state if those things were paid in full, McMillian explained. “Anything paid in full after February 4th, which is the date I purchased the cemetery, those things are my responsibility.”
From at least three people CBS42 spoke with from community meetings, all of their purchases came before that February 4th date, leaving McMillian to deal with troubles of previous ownership.
“We extend an offer to anyone who has any concerns to come in to the office and work directly with our staff to rectify any issues or any problems that may have existed in the past whether it was at a time that I was here or before I got here,” McMillian said.
McMillian believes local efforts by legislators like state representative Juandalyn Givan and city councilman William Parker to create a Jefferson County cemetery board, is simply a witch hunt.
“I did not buy a t-shirt, that said clean up Zion, I bought a broom,” McMillian said.
Councilman William Parker plans to bring up his efforts to create the cemetery board at Tuesday’s city council meeting, Cedric McMillian said he plans to be at the meeting to speak to the city council.