Emilee Smithmyer visits her dad’s grave at Oak Ridge cemetery in Altoona. Over time she said the grounds have become an eyesore.
“People just come through here all the time and feel like they need to dump trash,” Smithmyer told us.
The place she once found solace is now filled with garbage. There’s a ton of debris, a child’s toy, blankets, a broken door, tires, and even a chair.
However, it doesn’t stop there. Smithmyer said there were even marks from an ATV driving over her father’s grave. She said it has gone too far.
“I think it’s rude,” she exclaimed. “This is a place for people to mourn and remember family and now there are people treating this cemetery as a trash yard.”
Derek Osterhout has been a volunteer groundskeeper for about 5 years.
Despite the no trespassing and dumping sign, he said this has been an ongoing problem.
“It’s a shame,” Osterhout said. “It honestly is. Don’t let me catch you in here, plain and simple.”
He and other volunteers try to keep up with the toppled flags and tombstones, but it’s a lot.
“I hope the message finally gets through to them that Oak Ridge cemetery isn’t a dumping ground for your trash,” Osterhout told us.
As Emilee looks at what the cemetery has become, she said it’s not fair to the families who have loved ones buried here. She hopes whoever is responsible will stop.
“I don’t understand how you can drop your personal trash here,” she said.
We’re told police have been notified about the problems.
For now, the groundskeepers are working on cleaning it up and hope they catch someone in the act.