JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) - A second Town Hall meeting about George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens is planned for tonight at 6 p.m. in the gymnasium of Jackson Olin High School at 1300 Avenue F. in Birmingham.
The cemetery became a focal point of controversy when it closed with no explanation in September. It filed bankruptcy in early October.
People have a number of concerns about how this will impact their stake in the property. Many people have contacted CBS 42 with concerns about prepaid burial plots, unaccounted for grave markers, and the general upkeep of the cemetery.
Recent filings in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Birmingham shed new light on the cemetery’s monetary situation and perpetual care trust fund.
The Statement of Financial Affairs for George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens, Inc. was filed Tuesday.
Under the income from employment or operation of business the filing lists:
$390,000.00 2013 YEAR TO DATE CUSTOMER PAYMENTS (APPROXIMATE)
$702,874.00 2012 CUSTOMER PAYMENTS
$604,740.00 2011: CUSTOMER PAYMENTS
$18,000.00 2013 YEAR TO DATE
According to the filing a Levy bank account valued at $6,232.00 was seized in July 2013 by the Alabama Department of Revenue.
One computer, one printer, one fax machine, and six weedeaters valued at $4,500.00 dollars are written up as losses.
A lawsuit styled as Walter Johnson V. George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens, Inc. is described as pending in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County.
Tuesday we spoke to Tyler Vail, the attorney who filed the suit against the cemetery, and he described the nature of the original suit.
“We had filed a lawsuit a couple of months ago relating to improper burials and what that case basically was about was these individuals had their mother there and at some point over the last year someone has put someone else in the place where their mother was buried for the last decade,” said Vail.
It's been one week since the cemetery filed bankruptcy and court documents show that the first three trustees who were named to take interim control of the property have rejected that position.
Recent court filings shed light on the perpetual care fund which we're told is meant for the upkeep of the cemetery. In all its listed value is more than eight hundred thousand dollars.
But what that means for prepaid plot owners is still unclear.
Early court records listed the claim amount for prepaid and preneed plot purchasers as unknown. The prepaid plot owners and purchasers are listed on the schedule of creditors holding unsecured non priority claims.
Tuesday the cemetery's bankruptcy attorney, Fred Garfield, stated to CBS 42 that they hoped to have more information about prepaid plot holders in the next few days. Garfield also indicated that records for prepaid plots after May 2007 may be contained on a missing computer or computers.
"We hope to gain detailed information from company records regarding prepaid plot owners in the next few days and would intend to amend chapter 7 filing to add pertinent names and addresses and other relevant information for notice purposes at some point thereafter. As for "missing" computer(s) the information kept on those is yet to be identified but may include plot records after May 2007," said Garfield.
An attorney who is filing proof of claims on behalf of clients with prepaid plot certification says those records are very important.
"If they have proof I think they need to go ahead and file a proof of claim and contact the Attorney General's Office and file their claim as well. So they will be on record as having ownership interests in this property and being a creditor. If they don't file anything and the records of the corporation are not located then they're going to be left out," said James Stewart.
CBS42 will keep you posted on the latest developments in this story on CBS 42 News at 5, 6, and 10 p.m.
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At a meeting Thursday night, the cemetery plot maps of George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens were available for viewing.