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Former State Senator Tony Mendoza Hired To Clean Up Artesia Cemetery

THE ENTRANCE to Artesia Cemetery, which has seen mismanagement and has sat in disrepair and neglect for years. Photo by Tammye McDuff.

 

BY BRIAN HEWS 

The Artesia Cemetery District, established in 1882, was the only cemetery in the area for many years, exclusively serving the needs of Artesia, Cerritos, Hawaiian Gardens, and portions of Lakewood, Long Beach, and Norwalk, with the cemetery hosting over forty Civil War Veteran plots.

But in the past decade, the cemetery has fallen into mismanagement and disrepair, including broken sprinklers, invasive weeds and a large number of gophers.

The cemetery earns its revenue from local property taxes (60%), and internment services and the sale of plots (40%), which should have been enough to keep the cemetery in good shape.

But the management team of Joyce Yuetter and Robert Yuetter, relatives of Gretchen Whitney, whom the local high school in Cerritos is named after,  allowed the cemetery to fall into disrepair while losing money for years.

When L.A. County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn was elected, she immediately took action, appointing three new Board Members, Artesia Councilman Rene Trevino, Linda Gonzalez, and Hahn’s area representative, Linda Johnson, who was appointed Chair, to help “clean up the place.”

A search to hire a District Manager was started, with the cemetery publicly posting the position on Indeed as well as the SELACO Workforce Development Job Board. 

Forty-one applications were received and five applicants were interviewed by Johnson.

With Johnson’s blessing, the Cemetery Board unanimously approved the hiring of Artesia resident and former State Senator Tony Mendoza, who in 2018, resigned from the California Senate just moments before a vote to formally expel him after a series of sexual misconduct accusations.

The resignation was after a three-month saga that saw Mendoza vehemently deny any improper conduct while accusing his fellow legislators of unfair treatment. 

Mendoza hit the ground running, given a laundry list of actions to be implemented at the cemetery consistent with the inactions of the Yuetters: conducting regular Board meetings; establishing an accounting system; formulating a budget; establishing  payroll procedures; monthly financial and tax reporting; printing sales materials, and, of course, getting rid of the gophers and weeds.

 

 

The Yuetters saw the writing on the wall and immediately resigned their positions.

At a special Board meeting this past Tuesday, meetings that were never noticed to the public until now, Mendoza  discussed the improvements, including those completed on the structures and the grounds.

“The main building was in bad shape,” Mendoza told HMG-LCCN, “we are doing improvements to the building such as a new roof, updated plumbing, and painting inside and out.” 

Major improvements are being made throughout the cemetery including an overhaul of the irrigation system for the massive lawns structure.

“Many of the water lines are old and some completely disintegrated,” said Mendoza, “we also had a severe infestation of gophers, which as you can imagine was a huge problem. We hired a professional company to come in and it took us several months, but we have it under control.”

As soon as the irrigation system is updated, the cemetery will begin seeding and fertilizing the lawns. ”We are going to make sure that the lawn is nice and green. The trees will also be pruned and thinned out in order to promote a healthier growth,” added Mendoza, “we want families to feel comfortable with where their loved ones have been placed.”

A grand re-opening has been planned for Saturday, September 28th at 10:00 am. Supervisor Janice Hahn will be attending, with tours and a reception showcasing the improvements.

Following in the footsteps of the larger cemeteries such as Forest Lawn, the Artesia Cemetery is planning to offer family events inside the facility throughout the year.

Plans are in the works for a Family Movie Night November 2nd to celebrate Día de los Muertos featuring either Disney/Pixar hit ‘Coco’ or 20th Century Fox ‘The Book of Life’. The event will also feature crafts and food vendors.

When contacted by HMG-LCCN Supervisor Hahn defended the hiring of Mendoza, “this cemetery was in disrepair and financial trouble. I needed someone who could turn this cemetery around and Tony is doing that. Tony has lived and worked in Artesia for a long time. He knows Artesia and knows this cemetery. He has already done more this past year to promote this cemetery and get it back in working order than anyone else has in a long time.” 

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2 Responses to Former State Senator Tony Mendoza Hired To Clean Up Artesia Cemetery

  1. Tombstone Pizza

    July 19, 2019 at 11:41 am

    Artesia Cemetery, —————–

    www.loscerritosnews.net/2019/07/19/former-state-senator-tony-mendoza-hired-to-clean-up-artesia-cemetery/

    If you do a Google search under Cerritos Park and Recreation, (Archived Video) Sherry Titus, Anna Titis Drt. has talked about the condition of this Cemetery at said hearings. The cemetery was very disgraceful, but it seems like the city of Cerritos, has some adjoining property to this cemetery.

    I have walked around the cemetery a couple times, it’s interesting to read the phrases on the tombstones, dates and to see the diversity in architecture tombstones.

    City of Downey, just completed modernization of its original cemetery in So. Downey, closer to the 105 freeway, it was in ruins too.

    Shameful, that the 90703-90701 community does not have more picnics and festivals at that Cemetery, there’s a lot of picnicking done at Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, and also at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Cypress, Ca. Cemeteries make for a great place for kiddies and seniors, to go for a walk or for a bicycle ride. There’s not a lot of traffic and is small enough to get around in. Remember, Karen and Richard Carpenter, had a famous cemetery plot in Cypress, Ca., ( South Denni Street) until they were transferred to the SFV, where their final resting place, has running waterfalls surrounding the parents and Karens graves.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=gy2bZ5tvDq0
    Hope the cemetery can be in accord with some of our finer properties in Cerritos.

    Remember one of my Palos Verdes friends being buried at the Artesia, cemetery, seems like it was back in the 90s. She lived in Rolling Hills, California, and she also owned a large avocado Grove down in Fallbrook area. She died at the ages of 90’s, she was a little Heller, full of wild fire and very very talkative. She was a small frail little lady, 5 ft, maybe 75#, Caucasian, white hair, but she was very active until her death. Think she could have even climbed 100 story skyscraper at the age of 90 YO, she was just full of a lot of spunk. Remember one of her favorite pastimes, walking throughout her neighborhood in Rolling Hills, Ca. she said she always like to check out all the men’s butts going to work in the morning, she said they were always so interesting to her. Her husband liked to golf after dawn, so when he left for golf, she would go out for a walk around her hood and cruise her neighbors hinnies while getting in their cars, going off to work. Her son worked in the Fallbrook orchards. She was always a hoot and had firestorm in her belly.

    Wonder if the Artesia Cemetery has well water and is it still active?

    Many cemeteries have to have security cameras, tombstones and granite get stolen, plus odd relationships between living and the dead have be caught on film. Not uncommon to see tombstone on display in backyards of older homes built in the late 1800’s in our area, state and nation.
    Please visit this cemetery and others and place some flowers on tombstone of your favorites.

  2. Donuts

    July 24, 2019 at 9:01 am

    When was the last time anybody told you, someone wanted to be buried in the dirtiest Cemetery in Los Angeles or Orange County.? When was the last time anybody told you they wanted to live in a dirty dirty City. I pray that Tony can clean up that cemetery; also hope city code enforcement and clean up the city. The city is really going down down down. Please get some ideas for making a better city from this link.

    Artesia cemetery is not in the city of Artesia, located in Cerritos. It would be nice if possibly the Fine Arts Commission; Could add some rental art sculptures here or some permanent sculptures. Secured enough so nobody can go in there at night time, and perform any kind of seances on sculptures.

    City of Cerritos Rosewood Park sits behind the cemetery.

    There is approximately 50 military men buried at the cemetery. Womans club decorate the cemetery for spec. holiday.

    I would like to see the Rose Garden expanded, many cemeteries have a small rose garden


    When was the last time anybody told you, wanted to be buried in the dirtiest Cemetery in Los Angeles or Orange County.? When was the last time anybody told you they wanted to live in a dirty dirty City. I pray that Tony can clean up that cemetery and I also hope city code enforcement and clean up the city. The city is really going down down down.

    Artesia cemetery is not in the city of Artesia, located in Cerritos. It would be nice if possibly the Fine Arts Commission. Could add some rental art sculptures here or some permanent sculptures. Secured enough so nobody can go in there at night time perform any kind of seances on sculptures.

    City of Cerritos Rosewood Park sits behind the cemetery.

    There is approximately 50 military men buried at the cemetery. Womans club decorate the cemetery for holiday.

    I would like to see the Rose Garden expanded, many cemeteries have a small rose garden and a small intimate outdoor chapel garden, created from alley of formal hedges and seating. many people like to go to cemeteries, just to pray and a designated horticulture garden room is most appropriate.

    www.loscerritosnews.net/2019/07/19/former-state-senator-tony-mendoza-hired-to-clean-up-artesia-cemetery/