Woman Says Cemetery in Olivehurst is Still Being Neglected Two Years After Complaints

OLIVEHURST -- These aren't just stepping stones the grass has overtaken in someone's backyard. They're the grave markers of veterans from World War I and II and Vietnam that some believe managers of the Sierra View Cemetery in Olivehurst have no excuse for neglecting.

"For our veterans to look the way they do over there, right now and in the past, is ridiculous. They gave their life for this country and to be forgotten in that way is downright ridiculous. It should never happen. Never, never," said Christine Giusto.

Part of the reason Giusto's so upset is that she found much the same situation two years ago, complained and thought Sierra View was on its way to treating everyone buried here better. She started the Grave Posse Facebook group in 2015 to monitor conditions, but she is speaking out again because she's seen a decline and problems that were never fixed.

She's also seen damage to the headstones of her own loved ones because of careless mowing.
"You come out here, and you find where they're ran over and took chunks of brass out of people's headstones, it's not OK," said Giusto.

FOX40 tried to get farther back on the 63 acre property to capture some of the conditions Wednesday with our own cameras, but we were stopped before we could get past the office.

An employee said that three to four more permanent grounds crew members could keep Giusto from having to worry about what she might see on her next visit.

Cemetery manager Gentry Baker agreed to talk with FOX40 off premises, but StoneMor company rules -- the company that owns Sierra View and about 400 other cemeteries -- would not allow him to do an on-camera interview.

He shared that StoneMor just replaced its CEO two months ago and changes in subordinate executives are improving the company's operations.

Baker himself just started in Olivehurst in March.

Based on some of Giusto's critiques he's seen online, he says that just Tuesday he met with Bright View, the third-party mowers hired by the Pennslyvania-based parent company.

We're told a 10-person crew is coming in to get the grounds back on track. Almost 80 new sprinkler heads have been installed to avoid flooding in some sections and a wheelchair ramp is in the works.

Baker says he takes what happens here personally because he will be buried here.

Still, according to him, fixes are not an "overnight process."

He also said, "Is it going to be perfect? No, absolutely not, but when things are brought to our attention it will be addressed."

Baker did make a plan to walk through the cemetery with Giusto in the future and welcome any other feedback she has to offer.