BIRMINGHAM - Nearly a dozen pastors from churches across the greater Birmingham area gathered at George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens to announce they will stand behind those working to save the bankrupt cemetery.
State Representative Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham and Rod Scott, D-Fairfield, called a press conference at the cemetery on October 25, 2013 to announce the alliance.
The pastors are concerned about church members who are ill and have purchased plots at the cemetery.
Reverend Patrick Sellers of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in the Riley community says currently three members of his church are convalescent, they and others in their situation are asking the same question to pastors all across the city, "what will happen when I pass?" said Sellers.
The pastors are working in conjunction with state representatives and the Birmingham-Metro Chapter of the NAACP to help those impacted by the closing of the cemetery navigate the legal process.
They are working to set up drop off points around the city where patrons of the cemetery can fill-out and turn in paperwork.
On November the 5th, Givan will hold a mass meeting, the location has yet to be determined.
Givan says the ideal resolution is for someone to acquire the property. In the meantime she is working with Jefferson County Manager Tony Petelos to come up with a plan to perform maintenance and a cleanup at the cemetery.
Those with a stake in the cemetery are being encouraged to file a creditor claim form to ensure that they are counted as creditors in the company's bankruptcy.
Those who need help filling out the form are encouraged to contact the Birmingham-Metro Branch of the NAACP, the group is already helping people with the forms.
Givan says it is important to get the claim forms filled out and turned in as early as possible. While the deadline for the form is Feb. 3, 2014, the first creditor hearing is scheduled for Nov. 8th and encourages everyone with an interest in what happened to the cemetery to attend.
The cemetery, as required by state law, has a perpetual care trust set up . It is a Regions Bank account in Houston, Texas, that contains about $800,000, according to representative Scott, but it is not be enough to cover continual maintenance at the cemetery. He said the state may have to set up a receivership to take care of the cemetery if a buyer is not found.
Representative Givan says that the newly appointed trustee is actively pursuing potential buyers for the property.
The cemetery closed in September without notice. The company filed bankruptcy on October 8th.
Residents are advised to file the B10 proof of claim form using case #13-04509.
Claims should be mailed to the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District, Robert S. Vance Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse, 18000 5th Avenue North in Birmingham, AL 35203.
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