Editorial: You’re Somebody

Many years ago, Judge Paul Burch issued an order in Dillon County, which had a portion regarding the cleaning of cemeteries. In a nutshell, the order states that the county cannot use county personnel or county equipment to clean a cemetery unless it has been abandoned for 10+ years. Over the years, this order has come up from time to time, and the order a few years ago was served again on the sitting council.
At the most recent Dillon County Council meeting, this order came up again. Councilman Jamal Campbell, in remarks that were not part of the published agenda, spoke about a number of things including the cleaning of St. Mary’s Cemetery in Newtown, which is privately owned. Campbell wants the county to clean the cemetery because there has been a widespread dumping of trash, furniture, and other large items in the cemetery despite the fact that it is less than a mile from a county trash convenience site.
People using this cemetery as a dumping ground has been a year’s long problem. It’s nothing new. Most likely everyone can empathize with the fact that people’s loved ones are buried here. The dead are being disrespected by people who think there is nothing wrong with leaving their trash at a cemetery. It’s horrible, and it’s a terrible situation.
Councilman Campbell said he spoke to Judge Burch, who Campbell claims told him that the county had the right to go in and clean the cemetery up. The Herald has checked with the Clerk of Court’s office and no new order has been issued by Judge Burch in regards to the cleaning of cemeteries and no parts of the old order have been lifted in any formal paperwork.
However, regardless of whether the cleaning of a cemetery is prohibited by a judge’s order or not, in all honesty, it’s not the county’s problem or responsibility to keep an active cemetery clean or to clean private property, but somebody needs to do it…almost everyone can agree on that point.
Several years ago, when he was running for U.S. Congress, Jim Clyburn had a commercial. He said he was riding in his car with an older male relative, perhaps his father, when they saw a limb or some type of stick in the road. Jim commented to the relative that “somebody” needs to do something about that. His relative commented to him, “you’re somebody.”
We agree with Councilman Campbell that the St. Mary’s Cemetery needs to be cleaned up and then it needs to be maintained. You’re somebody, Councilman Campbell. Instead of asking the county to do the job of the community, the people who have relatives buried there, and the landowners, clean it up. Organize a group of volunteers and get in there and get things back in order. Restore the dignity to the cemetery and to those buried there. It can be done, and it has been done in this county at another historic African-American Cemetery with burials back to the 1800s, the Oakey Point cemetery, where the property is also privately owned. The cemetery was in a similar situation, a dumping ground for trash, torn-up furniture, and other items. A group of community-minded citizens organized in 2017 and have done a great job in getting the cemetery cleaned up, and at last check by The Herald, it’s still clean because the community got involved, and it’s important to them.
Councilman Campbell is surely up to the task of organizing volunteers and doing the real work of cleaning the cemetery by becoming hands-on and involved. He can lead by example and inspire the change and change of attitudes needed not only to clean a cemetery, but to move the county forward. We need to be a “can-do” county, not a “quick fix” county dependent on county government to get things done for us. Councilman Campbell can be the catalyst for the change he wants to see. This will be a defining moment for Councilman Campbell—will he insist upon the “quick fix” of getting the county to clean the cemetery and a short-term result or will he be willing to make the long-term commitment required of true leaders who are long-remembered for the real change they make because their work and their voice that carries on long after they are gone? You’re somebody, Councilman Campbell. Will you pick up the stick or pass the buck?