Family members take matters into own hands at overgrown cemetery in Lackawanna County

SOUTH ABINGTON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WNEP) -- One day after Newswatch 16 aired a story on an overgrown cemetery in Lackawanna County, people showed up to take matters into their own hands.

Eleanor Eckardt of Scranton says she always comes to her parents' grave in Abington Hills Cemetery during Memorial Day weekend, and usually, she just brings flowers, but this day she brought more.

“We saw your news segment last night about Abington Cemetery, and we decided we better put the lawn mower on just in case and certainly that's what we found that it's a mess,” said Eckardt.

The Eckardts are not the only ones taking it upon themselves to make sure their family members' graves are cared for. Others, including Bob Hughes of west Scranton, mowed a path in the overgrown grass to get to the area where family members were laid to rest.

Hughes says since word has spread about the cemetery's condition, he's noticed a difference.

“Certainly an improvement from what it was two days ago. 80% of this was high grass,” Hughes said.

Hughes says he's seen a lot of people with their personal lawn equipment here over the last few days.

“That's not the solution to the problem. The solution is hiring more people, getting more equipment in here, and doing it consistently,” said Hughes.

The owner of the Abington Hills Cemetery tells Newswatch 16 he also owns the Washburn Cemetery in Scranton. He does employ three full-time employees, but the workload is too much for them handle.

Owner Dominic Graziano wishes he could hire more workers to maintain the cemeteries, but he can't because of financial problems he inherited when he took over a little more than a year ago.

For now, Graziano hopes volunteers can help with the upkeep his staff can't get to.

In June, the owner plans to partner with Veteran's Promise NEPA for a clean-up event at the Washburn Cemetery and is hoping to hold a similar event at Abington Hills.

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