HCPF's Call To Action
Help us save Hillside Cemetery
Thank you to everyone for your support in the passage of AB 203!
Below you will find ways to help HCPF stop the disinterment of the individuals and families buried in Hillside Cemetery, as well as save the cemetery from development. HCPF also has a section that explains our interpretation of the disinterment plan, and what that will mean for the lives within Hillside Cemetery. Please take a second to fill out our petition, and if you are a family member we would like to hear from you. Both of these items can be found at the bottom of this page.
Check out our Facebook page for continuous updates https://www.facebook.com/HillsideCemeteryVolunteers/:
HCPF not only wants to save the history of Hillside Cemetery, it wants to support all existing family members that have ties to the individuals and families within the cemetery. We want to hear from you! We want to hear your stories, and your disapproval of what the current cemetery authority is trying do with disinterment and eventual development of the land our ancestors rest on. Please stand and fight with us!
Below you will find a Family Voice form where you can write your families story and express your concerns of not wanting your family members disinterred.
There are some legal actions that can be taken to stop the exhumation plans. Family members can reach out to our local non-profit legal organizations such as Nevada Legal Services and Washoe Legal Services. If you wish to obtain your own legal council, you can visit the State Bar of Nevada website, where you can find attorney lists and pricing information. Please check back frequently for updates.
Community Members & Organizaions
Now is the time to act! HCPF needs the support and strength of its community in order to save this important part of our history. Many community members have reached out to us, outraged at what the cemetery authority is trying to do. You are asking what you can do to help. We hear you, and we want to work with you. HCPF is accepting donations to aid in it's fight, but there is more you can do.
Please sign the Save Hillside Petition below. This seems like a simple action, but it will have a huge impact. We will be able to get our voice out in mass to express that WE DO NOT WANT THIS!
HCPF will put our foundation's community meetings, and those of other public entities with open forums, on our events page. Please check back frequently for updates.
Contact your Community Representatives
Share your concerns with Sierra Memorial Gardens and their Partners
Sierra Memorial Gardens - Contact Drew Lawton - 142 Bell St. Reno, NV 89503, 775-323-89503, email@example.com
Vinton Hawking - Sierra Memorial Gardens Partner, they own City View Terrace LLC. - Contact Vinton Hawkins - firstname.lastname@example.org
Garret t Gordon - Sierra Memorial Gardens representative with Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie - email@example.com
CommonWealth Heritage Group - we believe this is the anthropology firm they will be working with - Contact Michael Polk - firstname.lastname@example.org
HCPF's Community and Family Meeting - September 18, 2016 - Summary
The Hillside Cemetery Preservation Foundation held a Community and Family Meeting on September 18, 2016, in an effort to provide information to the Reno community on the current threat against Hillside Cemetery, as well as their efforts to stop it.
President of the Foundation, Fran Tryon, opened the meeting with a very warm welcome to everyone attending, and with the strong statement that she does her work for the families of Hillside Cemetery. She went on to share the good news received earlier in the day that the Cemetery Authority announced the suspension of their current disinterment plan. The Cemetery Authority’s statement reads:
“In view of a few families’ unfavorable responses received during the notification phase of the restoration plan for the Hillside Cemetery, effective today the plan for the restoration has been suspended.”
Although the news of the suspension is good news, HCPF will continue to fight against the Cemetery Authority’s disinterment plan with its volunteer maintenance and preservation efforts, as well as contact with the cemetery family members. It was expressed by many at the meeting that they do not trust the Cemetery Authority at this point and they know that fight is not over. HCPF invited the Cemetery Authority, both Mr. Lawton and Mr. Hawkins, to the community meeting; however, they respectfully declined to attend. Due to their absence, members of HCPF explained the threat in detail and their interpretation of what the Cemetery Authority’s intent is with the land. Without surprise, everyone attending was shocked that the disinterment plan would ever be an option for a cemetery owner to perform.
An attendee raised the question of “where are the families in all of this? Why have thy not come forward?” HCPF informed everyone that they are working with the families and that they have not only had to fight this every few years, but they continue to come forward and fight now. Fran Tryon requested that all the family members at the meeting stand up, to which over half of the room stood, and she stated that we are there for them and that their voices should be heard.
A bulk of the conversation focused on the land ownership rights of the families. Questions on what the Cemetery Authority actually owns are still undefined. Additionally, questions on how the Cemetery Authority can “take” from private land that is not theirs are still undefined. Unfortunately HCPF does not have all the answers to these items yet, but these questions are of the utmost importance, and we are currently researching them.
HCPF Board Member, Barrie Lynn, explained that there are two main threats we need to work on stopping right now. Any disinterment threat needs to be stopped for good, and the land ownership needs to be recognized as belonging to the family members, not the Cemetery Authority. Many attendees asked what they can do to help stop the plan. HCPF informed every one of their Call to Action page on their website. At this time, concerned citizens and family members should be writing to their city representatives. With the assistance of the attendees the below action items have been decided on as a basic guideline to help supporters draft any correspondence to city representatives.
- · Hillside Cemetery is the first and oldest established cemetery in Reno, NV. It was originally Reno Cemetery as well. It should be maintained in its current for due to its historical significance.
- · Sierra Memorial Gardens only owns the land in-between the plots. Which are necessary easements for cemetery access. Each individual and family plot is owned and is still being used by those families. Sierra Memorial Gardens has no right to the plot land, and should not be able to disinter as that would be trespassing on private property.
- · Sierra Memorial Gardens has blocked off access to Floral Avenue (the street that continues off of 10th Street, between the two halves of the cemetery, with large fences. This has blocked off access to the main gate of the cemetery, which prevents critical easement access. There are some family members with disabilities that wish to go to their family plots, and now they cannot easily get there. This is not the first time that Sierra Memorial Gardens has “locked” the gates preventing family’s access to their relative’s plots.
- · There was a lack of oversight when the disinterment permit was granted. This permit should be pulled for many reasons, and there should be proper research and notification time before anything can move forward.
- · According to NRS 452.050, the County Commission is responsible for overseeing the Cemetery Authority, and that they maintain the cemetery premises. Obviously that is not happening. How can the Cemetery Authority financially gain from their own neglectful actions?
- · There is a possibility that the Antiquities Act, NRS 383.170, may apply in this situation. This would require more research, but we are curious to see if it was considered appropriately before any permits were given?
- · Hillside Cemetery should be a historical landmark, and can be used as a heritage park for the community.
Again, the above action items are just some of the main issues, and are suggestions for use when writing to city representatives. HCPF encourages you to write/speak from your heart. HCPF appreciates everyone that came out on the 18th, and the wonderful support it has been getting from the community. We hope that everyone will continue to fight with us until these threats can be stopped once and for all.
Hillside Cemetery Preservation Foundation
Breakdown of the Disinterment Plan
HCPF has meet with both the owner of Hillside Cemetery, and their partner. During our meeting we learned of their intention in disinterring the bodies within the cemetery. Below is a map of the cemetery. The section in blue, below Floral Avenue, is the Southern half of Hillside Cemetery. Within it are approximately 740 to 800 remains. The section in blue above Floral Avenue shows where known remains are within the Northern section. The sections in yellow, surrounding the Northern half, comprise the GAR Civil War Cemetery and the Knights Pythias Cemetery. The cemetery authority intends to move the remains from the Southern half into the Northern half. How this is logistically possible does not make sense to us. One of the only ways this would be possible is if they place the remains from the Southern half into a mass grave. Of course, they would not inform us on how they would actually handle the moving of remains, saying only that they are doing it according to NRS (Nevada Revised Statute) 451. Their intention is to sell the land for profit once the disinterment is complete.
For those of us who have been volunteering and working tirelessly to restore this historic cemetery, the disinterment plan is not only extremely disrespectful, but also not feasible. The cemetery authority states that the disinterment and relocation of the remains is the only way to preserve the history within the cemetery, when actually they are destroying it. It is true that the cemetery has suffered vandalism and extreme neglect, but that is due to lack of adequate ownership, and proper handling of the land. The cemetery authority states that Hillside continues to suffer from vandalism, desecration and despoliation of grave sites, which is just not true. Since HCPF has started work in the cemetery, any and all occurrences of this matter have severely decreased. Any current blight of the cemetery is due to the neglect of the cemetery authority, and it does not seem right to HCPF that they can now benefit from their own abandonment and neglect of our founding fathers. The cemetery authority also states that they will turn the North section into a memorial garden. While this may sound like a good plan, the fact that they have taken such poor care of their current land, is proof enough that the North section will continue to receive the same atrocious care.
Currently the plots are owned by the family members. Many family members do not want their relatives to be disinterred and moved. They feel strongly that their relatives are there to rest in peace and should not be disturbed. The cemetery authority has no explanation on how they will handle these objections, but there is strong evidence that they will disinter regardless.
Further, the cemetery authority has neglected to address the matter of health concerns for the community if disinterment commences. They have stated that the individuals working on the project will be protected accordingly, but have no explanation on possible effects to the community. There are confirmed cases of death by Anthrax, Scarlet Fever, Spanish Influenza, Typhoid, Diphtheria, and other contagious diseases.