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#454642 - 01/05/13 07:56 AM Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges  
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But the Mayor of Belize City says it is law and a necessary one. Mayor Bradley today told us that the council isn't trying to put undertakers out of business - they're simply trying to ensure quality control at the cemetery:..

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"This should not offset in any significant way the undertaking business. I read the headlines in terms of the Amandala and certain concerns which were raised which are things that we do look at because we are mindful of the economic conditions, we are mindful that people need to make a living. But the undertaking business involves a wide gamut of services and what we are saying is that we will do the construction of the tombs. The cemetery comes under our jurisdiction and the maintenance of tombs is always our responsibility and what we have notice over several years is that the tombs themselves they are not built to standards and so when a tomb is constructed if it's not built to standards within a year, two year or five years period the City Council has to go in there for public health reasons and we have to reconstruct the tombs. What we are saying is that we have people who worked at the City Council cemetery; we have 8 people who worked currently at Lord Ridge and a lot of them currently they build the tombs themselves because the undertakers would subcontract the work out to them."

"What we are saying is that we will appropriate the responsibility since it's our responsibility to maintain the tombs and we will ensure that the tombs will be built at a certain standard. Residents of Belize should see a decrease in the cost."

Jules Vasquez
"The undertakers are in an uproar because yes they offer a range of services but these are their value added services which you all are now taking bread off their table."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Jules, I wouldn't agree with that because essentially the building of tombs is something I think that 80% of the tombs are built by City Council personnel anyway."

Jules Vasquez
"I spoke to Ms. Swasey, her son recently passed away and she was saying that she burying him along with his father and it will cost her $150 instead of $100."

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"Of course we were very mindful in terms of the increasing in any fees. We know the economic conditions; we know that this is at a time when people often times don't budget for death. It's an expense which is often times unexpected but all the fees that we charged are only at cost, it's not like we make a profit from the cemetery."

Channel 7

#454647 - 01/05/13 08:51 AM Re: Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges [Re: Marty]  
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All construction of graves, tombs etc. taken away — funeral home owners out in cold!

The Belize City Council has informed all undertakers in a press release sent out in December 2012, that effective Tuesday, January 1, 2013, the City Council cemetery workers would take over several duties from the undertakers.

Those duties include the construction of common graves and enclosed graves, the re-opening of graves at the Lord Ridge and Eternal Gardens Cemeteries, and the construction of “vault/mausoleum, tombstones, tomb tablets, statues, and niche in columbarium.”

The press release went on to state that the listed structures were to be done only by authorized workers from the Cemetery Department, and that the construction of those structures would cost $1,000.

David Coye of Coye Funeral Homes said the arrangement does not seem plausible because it has not been made law.

“Laws like that have to pass through the Cabinet, not happen overnight,” he said. He went on to say, “I’m looking into getting a lawyer. The cemetery is not for the City Council; it’s for the people of Belize, the people of Belize City. If they want to compete, no problem. But they can’t just stop us, though.”

Coye said that the City Council is planning on stopping the people from doing simple things such as painting burial structures and building graves for their loved ones on spaces that already belong to the families. He said that he sees the issue becoming an even bigger problem.

“People have the right to choose who they want to build for them,” he said. “It might boil down to people having to get permission to enter the cemetery. It’s not only affecting us, but everybody. The City Council is to regulate and legislate, not to form a business to compete against the public.”

The matter of City Council taking over the cemetery business will mean only one thing for undertakers, and that is that they will lose their source of revenue.

“Well, it seems our services we provide, we can’t provide anymore,” Coye said. “To be honest, I don’t see it working. It hasn’t reached Cabinet. As far as I know, it has to pass through them first.”

Amandala tried to contact the mayor today, Thursday, for comment, but was told that he was in a meeting and would be unavailable for the rest of the day.


#454781 - 01/08/13 07:49 AM Re: Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges [Re: Marty]  
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CITCO Apologizes to Family For Mess At Cemetery

Last week, 7News told you about the unsteady transition that the Belize City Council made in relation to their assumption of responsibility for Cemetery services, including the construction of new graves.

Well tonight, things are still bumpy because another family has complained that this so-called "quality control" that Mayor Darrell Bradley is trying to work on apparently didn't apply to their dead loved-ones grave.

The Hylton Family, who came forward last week to complain that police aren't properly investigating the death of 76 year-old Hector Hylton, contacted us to say that CitCo didn't construct his grave properly.

Here's how that conversation went about the grave they had to bury their loved one in this weekend:

Daniel Ortiz
"I imagine that you all feel that it is disrespect to the family and to his memory that his grave is poorly done."

Deltrude Hylton - Daughter of Deceased
"That's right,"

Daniel Ortiz
"What's the response that you've received from City Council?"

Deltrude Hylton - Daughter of Deceased
"Like I said Mr. Phillip Willoughby was the person I spoke to about 11:30 there about and that's after I went to see 3 different persons who were not there. I finally saw him coming out of one of the office down the stairs and I told him what I wanted and he said that he will call the person that is in charge. So then he called Mr. Percy Murillo who then said that they are going to re-build the grave and he told me that we can check by 3pm because by then it should be done. If it is not done, it should be in process."

Daniel Ortiz
"I don't think that you all are happy that it has to be redone in the first place right?"

Deltrude Hylton - Daughter of Deceased
"No we are not because we should have gotten that job done properly from the first outbreak."

Well, it's seems that City Hall has heard their complaints loud and clear, and today, City Councilor with responsibility for Sanitation Dion Leslie offered the family a public apology.

Here's how he explained to us that they've implemented new measures to ensure that there is no reccurrence:

Dion Leslie - Deputy Mayor, Sanitation
"First off I would like to apologize to the family on behalf of teh entire city council. I did go out there on Saturday. I was called by someone who attended the funeral for another incident that happened during the funeral where a grave next to their grave that they were burying their family member in collapsed, so I went out there to assess the situation and I did see the workmanship on the grave and I immediately contacted the supervisor and the manager to inquire about because I was not happy with the workmanship. For the past week we were on the media talking about quality control and why we made the decision to take over the building of graves, so when I saw that I was not happy."

"I immediate call and the explanation they gave to me was that the timeframe for the building of the graves to when the funeral happen was very short and the crew didn't have ample time to complete the grave as how we would have like which would have been the plastering and what not. To my understanding an hour after the blocks were laid is when the funeral arrived. It's not an excuse and I won't use that as an excuse for it. I will not stand for it but due to this situation now we are putting things in place where when anyone comes the Council needs at least 48 hours to properly construct a tomb so we can ensure that the cement is cured and that the blocks they stick together that everything is proper for the funeral and after that we also have ensure now that Mr. Mendoza who is the City Planner must signed off on all tombs being built."

And in relation to the circumstances surrounding Hector Hylton's death, police told the media in a press conference this morning that they've closed the case believing that he committed suicide.

They say that they've showed the family evidence in a surveillance video, but the family says it's not real. Here's how both sides explained their positions:

Supt. Alden Dawson - OC, CIB Belize City
"As it relates to Hector Hylton, initially we conducted an investigation into that allege incident and from the incept we realize that this guy did in fact committed suicide and we have gone even further to show the family a video recording where the father actually climbed up the containers and threw himself from that second container. That case as far as we are concern is closed and write off as suicide."

Deltrude Hylton - Daughter of Deceased
"Honesty speaking and you can hold me to this on record; I don't believe the tape that I have seen. To me the tape is bogus. The police went to retrieved that two days after the scenario. For me it is my belief that the police should have some form of authority that on a day like that in question - even Hough they said that the office was already closed it is their job and to me they should have that authority to tell those people to open back that office so they can see that footage."

"Then again for you to come to a conclusion - you need to have everything clear - that person that fall off that place; that image, I don't see that as my dad and there is a lot more to it that the police are not looking into. My family knew that the police has closed their case the same day they left the scene. I will tell them and I want you to air this for them to hear from me that they from in house, I heard it that they already closed the case from the day they left the scene because they said our dad committed suicide."

Daniel Ortiz
"For those of the people in the public and viewers who will see this who will say that the Hylton family is just living in denial - they don't want to accept that something like that could have happen. How do you respond to them?"

Deltrude Hylton - Daughter of Deceased
"i will not say that it couldn't have happen to us. It could happen to anybody but as far as I am concern and my family's concern we are sure - there are both us who went to see that tape and from what we saw the tape is bogus."

According to the family, Hector Hylton would not commit suicide, which is the primary reason that they refuse to accept that conclusion.

Channel 7

#454964 - 01/11/13 07:32 AM Re: Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges [Re: Marty]  
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Quality Controls at the Cemeteries

The Belize City Council has announced that effective January 1st, has taken over the work at the cemeteries as it pertains to digging of graves and construction of tombs. Belize City Mayor, Darrell Bradley has said that it is about quality control at the cemeteries. He explained that over the years, the tombs which are constructed are not up to standard and at times they collapse under their weight. This forces the City Council, which is ultimately responsible for the maintenance at the cemeteries, to have to go in after the tombs crumble to fix them thereby incurring additional expenses for the Council.

The Mayor also stated that the Belize City Council currently has 8 full-time employees working specifically at the cemeteries and that it is these same employees who are sub-contracted to do the work for undertakers. That will now be a thing of the past with the City Council taking on the work at the cemetery.

And highlighting the need for quality controls at the cemeteries, a tomb’s cover broke under its own weight as another funeral was taking place next to it. Bringing it to The Guardian’s attention was Deputy Mayor Dion Leslie, who told us that the tomb collapsed as people were standing on top of it but he noted that poor workmanship in the past may have caused the damage. The Council is now in the process of identifying family members of the person buried there to determine a course of action.

The Guardian

Cemetery Complaints Alive And Multiplying

For the past week, 7News has been following the less-than-smooth transition at the Cemetery as the Belize City Council has taken over management and control. Well tonight, undertaker David Coye, owner of the well-known Coye Funeral Parlor is the one kicking up dust. According to him, as part of City Hall's new rules are being enforced for everyone, except a select few. Here's how he explained it:

David Coye - Coye Funeral Home
"I have purchase that space to build a tomb for a funeral either Sunday or Monday. They denied my payment and they show me a notice on their wall that the new prices from $150 - it is now $250 just today and it comes with a new application fee of $25. They insist to me that I have to pay $1,000 so that City Councils' workers can build the tomb."

"Goldbourne "Easy Glen" Adolphus went to purchase two spaces yesterday for an undertaker. I guess he is doing his hustling. He went there and they accepted his payment. Goldbourne doesn't have any construction business, no kind of business at all. Anyway they accepted his payment for two space and them some guys who claimed that they are relatives is building the tombs."

"The record is there because he had to sign, so you can check with the office after this. For them to accept Goldbourne payment why they can't accept mine and I have a legit business. That clearly they are signaling me out as public enemy #1. They are trampling my business and legit persons who are doing an honest trade - pay their tax and GST, everything to time."

This evening, Dion Leslie, the Deputy Mayor with responsibility for the Cemeteries, told 7News that there was a confusion with Golburne "Easy Glenn" Adolphus because Leslie was trying to propose an amendment of the new regulations to assist poor families. Leslie told us that this proposal is in its infancy stage, but Adolphus pressed forward and made payment which should not have been accepted by the Council.

He assured us that this confusion will not occur again, and that everyone who tries to get grave spaces will have to follow the rules, and pay the fees which everyone else must adhere to.

Channel 7

#455039 - 01/12/13 08:12 AM Re: Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges [Re: Marty]  
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Mayor’s final words on cemetery and undertaker situation

Darrell Bradley

The Lord’s Ridge Cemetery and Eternal Garden are the two resting sites controlled by the Belize City Council. On December seventeenth, 2012, the Council informed undertakers and funeral homes that it would take control of the building of tombs and vaults at these sites to ensure quality control. There has been an expected backlash from funeral directors and undertakers who feel a potential threat to their livelihoods. On Thursday we found one man who was not an employee of the city, who was making a tomb at the Lord Ridge Cemetery. The Mayor said that there is a pauper program to bury the destitute but he agrees that the work should have been carried out by a council employee.

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“The regime for the burying of an individual is something that is required of the municipal. So we have to ensure that people are buried. So in law there is provision for what we call pauper burial. So if a person can’t afford a burial, we still have to ensure that that person’s buried because it comes under the mandate of public health. So there are certain things. For example, if somebody comes to us, the fee for an un-tombed grave is two hundred and fifty dollars. And if somebody comes to us and tell us that they can’t afford that, then what we do is that we waive that fee. So we still have to ensure that people are buried. If you want a tomb-grave that’s a thousand dollars. So what we do is that if there may be a situation where you would have an individual who they would have waived the fee for them; what we shouldn’t do is allow them to build the tomb themselves which I believe was what happened in that case.”

Jose Sanchez

“Because there was a gentleman building a tomb yesterday and then Mr. Coye was saying see they can do it, but I can’t.”

Darrell Bradley

“Well I mean that, I don’t know specifically about that situation. I certainly would not authorize any individual to build the tomb themselves because the purpose really of the policy is to ensure quality of care for the building of the tomb. I respect the fact that you need to earn an income; I think that the policy could have been implemented better in terms of dialoguing with persons. And surely if Mister Coye or whomever is saying that there has been coregent evidence of the policy not being followed, that is something that we will investigate in that any person who assisted in that happening; if that did in fact happen, we will deal with them.”

Channel 5

#455515 - 01/18/13 07:45 AM Re: Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges [Re: Marty]  
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City Council Says Cemetery Snafu's Are Finished

Last night, 7News told you about the latest complaint against the Belize City Council in relation to the mistakes being made under their administration of the cemetery.

As we showed you last night, according to the Sebastian Family, City Hall employees confused 2 grave spaces and used the wrong one to bury their loved-one.

Well, 7News gave City Hall an opportunity to respond to the accusations from the family, but they were unable to do so due to time constraints.

So today, the newly re-appointed Public Relations Manager, Kenneth Morgan, spoke to the media for the first time in his new capacity, they grilled him in an extensive conversation about their mistakes since completely taking over the cemetery.

First, he told us that the council and the Sebastian family have reached an amicable resolution:

Kenneth Morgan, PR Manager - Belize City Council
"As any new process you will encounter a few difficulties until we have gotten totally iron out and one matter that was in the news was the matter of the Sebastian family that has been resolved to the satisfaction of the family members. As a matter of fact this morning we met with them in our offices and came to an amicable solution with which the family was satisfied. We need to point out for the public that over the number of years we have had a number of various care takers. The place where the most problem happen is in the relay of information from the burial ground to the City Council records office. Now we are putting in place a system where we are now looking into mapping out the entire burial ground changing the numbering system that is currently in place and coming up with a new one that will facilitate all persons wishing to use the burial ground to make matters easier for everyone involved."

And the people who've been most affected by the takeover are the undertakers, who've cried foul. You've seen the well-established David Coye, owner of Coye Funeral Home, who has publicly accused City Hall of trying to derail his business.

Today, Morgan challenged Coye and other undertakers to admit that they often benefit from a relationship in the funeral business by receiving contracts from members of the public and then sub-contracting out to employees of the Council. The undertakers often pay them a minimal stipend, while they keep the main profits.

Here's how he explained that City Hall is not attempting to cut into their business:

Kenneth Morgan, PR Manager - Belize City Council
"May I point out to you that majority of the undertakers do not do the actual construction of the graves and tombs - that is in fact done by City Council employees who are working in the burial ground. The undertakers get the contract from the various families and then they come and pass it on to City Council employees who are employed to work at the burial ground for a very small stipend and they continue with the work. If that work proves to be shoddy, for whatever reason; for skimping on materials, for not adhering to the proper construction practices - it is your very same City Council that has to then come in after the fact and do the necessary repairs. I am sure you have heard it mentioned the tops of graves are cracking; they are falling in. Persons living in the vicinity of the burial ground are complaining of stenches and aromas coming into their very houses as a result of these faulty constructions; so, no it is not a case of the City Council trying to take away anyone's livelihood."

And lately, a document has been circulating around in the media, which claims to be the new rates that the Belize City Council is charging.

This document claims that the council has hiked up prices for grave spaces to an unreasonable fee, when compared to one particular undertaker's fees before the takeover.

Morgan also categorically stated that these numbers are wrong, and that it is irresponsible for these numbers to be taken as accurate:

Kenneth Morgan, PR Manager - Belize City Council
"I must state at this time that the numbers that were quoted on the media in past newscast are wrong. I would urge that you come down to the City Council where we will be able to give you the exact figures that we are charging. The justification for the cost will also be given and you would be able to then compare for yourself."

We hope to catch up with City Hall tomorrow to see their numbers, and have them explained their reasons for the new prices.

Channel 7

#456516 - 01/27/13 08:09 AM Re: Mayor Defends Cemetery Charges [Re: Marty]  
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Digging Up Bones!

By G. Michael Reid

The Belize City Council’s decision to take away the building of graves at the Lord Ridge Cemetery from local undertakers and contractors smacks of little more than just unadulterated greed. While the cementing of our city streets is certainly welcome, the mayor seems intent on carrying out this job by gouging every possible penny from not only the living but even the dead. While they continue to insist that prices will not change, all those who have had to do business since the change over, have a different story to tell.

The Council’s recent conflict with undertakers and grave builders had me reminiscing about a time long gone. One of the first jobs I held as a young boy growing up on Cemetery Road in Belize City was apprentice to Mr. Locke, at the time, Belize’s premier grave builder. It was no easy job, and it entailed breaking big stones into little ones. We had no cement blocks and don’t remember us using any steel or ‘sand and gravel’ even. We would cast the sides, fill up the middle with dirt and cast the top.

Many of the stones that I would break were recycled from old tombs that were left abandoned and derelict. In retrospect, I guess you could say that we were, well, sort of grave robbers. We would identify the old broken-up tombs during the daytime and return at night to gather up the pieces. For a kid who grew up deathly afraid of ghosts, you could imagine that that had to have been the most difficult aspect of that job.

Louis Locke was a modern day cowboy; six guns, belt buckle, boots and all; he was a classic to say the least. He was quite enigmatic and somewhat of a recluse. Rumors abounded about the relationships he had with his daughters and even granddaughter. I can say that during the time that I spent around Mr. Locke, and it was quite a few years, I saw no evidence to support this. While me and Lockey would build the tombs, Feina his wife, would build the headstones and ornaments. She would cast them, polish them and chisel in the epitaph. For my part, I believe I made, for the week, two dollars and fifty cents when I worked part-time during school days and five bucks when I could put in a full week’s work during the times when school gave vacation. Looking back, I swear that man owes me money.

I remember at that time that apart from Mr. Locke, there were two other men that worked full-time around the cemetery. One was Mr. Coote, the official caretaker and the other was his assistant, Mr. Richards. Coote was another strange and mysterious fellow. He lived just inside of the graveyard along with his wife and I believe one step-daughter. There were rumors, but I think I will leave those out of this story. I do remember that at some point, Mr. Coote started to walk around with a twist-face. I’m not sure when it happened or how it happened but the rumor was that he went to exhume a body and was slapped by a ghost. I’m not making this up folks, ask around.

The other man in the graveyard at the time was Mr. Richards. I believe that Mr. Richards was Coote’s attendant at the time and eventually took over from Mr. Coote. No, I don’t have any rumors about Mr. Richards but I know that his son, Bernard Richards, was the man who was fired by City Council just last May. Remember the story of the famous log book which had all the names and numbers of grave spaces. Whatever happened to that story and did City Council ever acquire that book? If they didn’t, I wonder how they have been getting along without it. Might explain the recent fiasco where they buried a body in the wrong grave.

Maybe the City Council should stick to cementing streets. They have been getting major kudos for that but it is sad to see them taking bread out of people’s mouths. One would think that they have enough on their hands keeping the city safe, clean and running without taking on added responsibility.

Newly, and once again appointed spokesperson for the Council, Kenny Morgan, was on the media this week trying to justify the Council’s actions. According to Morgan, the undertakers have no right to complain because they don’t do the work themselves, anyway. This makes absolutely no sense! Mr. Morgan, Mr. Mayor, these people are contractors and they sub-contract the work to the masons who in turn do the actual building of the tomb.

The fact is that it is so much easier and more convenient for folks to make one payment to the undertaker and rest assured that everything will be done in order. Families are already grieving and it makes it so much more difficult for them to be running here, there and everywhere in order to get their loved ones buried. According to Morgan, Coye and other undertakers actually hire City Council workers to do their work. Really! How many City Council workers are there at the cemetery anyway? If there are that many that they can be hired to do the undertaker’s work, how come they can’t keep the cemetery clean or keep robbers and vandals out?

That is what the City Council should be doing; keeping the cemetery safe and clean. Just last year, there was the robbery of a prominent citizen in the cemetery as he was visiting the tomb of a loved one. There have been rapes, robberies and even murders in the Lord Ridge Cemetery. How about building a decent fence and keeping the grass cut and the premises clean? It is not a problem to have building codes and criteria for the work, but to strong-arm it from the current workers is nothing less than greed.

The mayor will have to check himself before he wrecks himself. In December, he announced that city residents will be required to pay an additional garbage tax. Ten dollars per month seems little enough but for a city already under siege with poverty, unemployment and high cost of living, any additional weight might be the straw that breaks this camel’s back.

In a city that already has very little parking spaces; the mayor has given his traffic officers quotas and has them roaming the streets like vultures. Pretty soon, we will be living in a city with beautiful cemented streets but no one able to afford cars or even bikes to ride on them. Lighten up Mr. Mayor, you are coming on just a little too strong!

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