By Fred Woods
Ross Cemetery is an old, long-neglected cemetery located in a residential area of Opelika. It occupies about four acres of land and is bounded on the east by India Road (between 1414 and 1700) and west by Oakbowery Road.
During this neglected period people, probably nearby neighbors, began dumping their yard waste and, sometimes, discarded grills, lawn furniture, etc., on the city right-of-way adjacent to the cemetery on India Road rather than at their own curbs.
This behavior has continued, from time to time, even after the city of Opelika erected a “No Dumping” sign on the right-of-way. These violators may not be aware that the city of Opelika can levy substantial penalties for violations.
The Opelika ordinance provides that any person convicted of violating … [ the city’s no-dumping ordinance] … shall be punished as follows:
For a first violation: a fine of $100. For a second violation: a fine of $200. For a third violation: a fine of $300. For a fourth and subsequent violations: a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment of not more than six months, or both at the discretion of the municipal judge trying the case.
There are 20 marked graves, eight of them veterans of World Wars I or II; there are about 20 more with surface vaults or slabs, but no names and many others are marked only by rocks or by an indentation in the ground. Every one of them, however, deserves our respect.
Present ownership is uncertain, but the name Ross may come from the old Ross plantation. The age of the cemetery is not known but, based on the dates on some of the headstones, the cemetery is at least 100 years old.
Recent efforts at maintaining the cemetery go back several years. On national “Make A Difference Day,” Oct. 25, 2014, the Lee County Cemetery Preservation Committee took the lead in organizing a clean-up operation.
Presently a young boy scout, Kyle Graddy, has undertaken a substansive restoration of one acre of the cemetery as his Eagle Scout project. Kyle hopes that his efforts might inspire others, even local residents, to finish restoring and maintaining what he has started. Kyle, his father and the cemetery commission have also considered asking the city of Opelika to take over the cemetery maintenance.