Woman calls 12, ends battle with Petersburg over historic site - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Woman calls 12, ends battle with Petersburg over historic site

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PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) -

It is one of the most iconic sites in Petersburg, the hills of Blandford Cemetery. Less than a week ago, out of control grass grew around the graves – final resting places that have marked the grounds since Petersburg was a British city.

Generations are buried within the site, including members of Mary Russell's family. But over the past five years, Russell says she and her husband have had to landscape the grounds where her ancestors are buried, themselves.

It is the City's responsibility to maintain Blandford Cemetery, a responsibility Russell says, has been neglected.

"The dead need some respect, and I am here as their voice," Russell said in an interview Friday. "We bring a weed eater, a blower to clean it afterwards, a hard rake, and a trash bag, every time. And that's every other week, we cut nine graves."

After NBC12 inquired with City Manager William Johnson III, groundskeepers have worked extensive hours to bring the property back to pristine shape.

City Spokesperson Esther Hyatt said bad weather has prevented crews from getting to work, and Petersburg remains committed to keeping Blandford clean.

"I believe nothing would have been done now, if I hadn't gotten [NBC12] involved," Russell said. "This is just in time for Mother's Day, since last Mother's Day, grass was up to our waists in some areas."

Blandford Cemetery has veterans buried from every single American war. The oldest grave dates back to 1702.

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