Hosemann was champion Green Acres needed

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 31, 2010

A year ago the situation was looking pretty grim for people who owned grave spaces in Green Acres Memorial Park as well as for those whose loved ones are buried there.

In the highest tradition of public service, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann waded into the financial and record-keeping morass created by the owners of the private cemetery and, a year later, most everything is set aright. Citizens are often under the assumption that government officials will, as Hosemann did, perform their legal responsibilities. That’s just not true. It would have been easy for him or others in authority to look the other way, define their responsibilities differently — and leave defrauded customers with no remedy.

The 15-acre cemetery, created about 60 years ago, was well-managed and well-kept until it came under group ownership. After the principal owner, Mike W. Graham of Houston, Texas, died in 2007, bookkeeping went into disarray. Hosemann got involved when state-required informational reports were not filed. He found trust and other accounts raided or depleted. About 700 people who had paid in advance for plots had to rush to record their deeds and all who prepaid for merchandise and services have lost some or all that money.

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While there’s little chance the pilfered money will ever be recovered, Green Acres is operating under the experienced stewardship of Vicksburg businessman Harry Sharp and maintenance has continued.

Hosemann also went to the Legislature and won approval of improvements designed to make cemetery owners and all sellers of pre-need services more accountable. It’s an area where state law was far too vague.

A year ago, the clients, living and dead, of Green Acres Memorial Park, needed a champion. The secretary of state didn’t respond with obfuscation or doublespeak. He showed us how government is supposed to work.