News10NBC Investigates: Missing plaques on crypts in Riverside Cemetery
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — When her husband died Lisa Demanchick was promised a plaque at his crypt at Riverside Cemetery in six weeks.
It’s now going on nine months and the only things with his name are Lisa’s homemade sticker and a strip of blue tape and the Demanchick family is not alone.
At the city-owned and operated Riverside Cemetery, there is blue painter’s tape on several crypts.
This story asked Mayor Malik Evans: Are you doing everything you can to help these families get what they paid for?
"So if we look closely on that blue tape," I said to Lisa Demanchick at her husband’s crypt. "You see his name right here right?"
"Yes," Lisa said. "Philip Demanchick."
Phillip Demanchick died from cancer last May. He was 57. He and Lisa were married for 30 years and have three children.
When he died, Lisa paid $5,400 for a crypt at Riverside Cemetery.
The purchase came with a bronze plaque with Phillip’s name, just like the one for his brother in the same mausoleum.
"They told me it was going to be about six weeks for his nameplate," Lisa said. "And here we are eight months and we still have no name."
Phillip’s mother paid $300 for a bronze vase.
That’s not here either.
"We’re very upset about it because you come here and there’s no name and you’re looking at a stone," Elia Demanchick said.
We found several crypts at the mausoleum at Riverside Cemetery with blue painter’s tape and the deceased’s name scribbled in pen.
I brought this problem to Mayor Malik Evans and explained what families were facing.
"Mayor your administration inherited a problem at Riverside Cemetery," I said. "I’m just here to make sure that your administration and the city is doing everything you can to try to get these grieving families what they paid for."
"Absolutely and I can relate," the mayor said. "Both my parents are buried at Riverside Cemetery and I remember my sister calling me every day and saying — when is the plaque going to get up there?"
The mayor said he’s aware of the problem. Recently, the city hired a new vendor for the vases. The vendor, Coldspring, told News10NBC the vases were shipped to the city this week.
The vendor for the bronze plaques — one of the largest bronzing companies in the country — hasn’t changed.
"And I sympathize with that. it’s something we are paying a lot of attention to," Mayor Evans said.
"When you go to the cemetery office and you say what’s the deal? What do they tell you?" I asked Lisa.
"They just told me COVID," she said.
When I contacted several local cemeteries to see if they have the same problem, I was directed to David Fleming, the legislative director for the state association of cemeteries.
Fleming said COVID shut down or delayed the production and delivery of bronze plaques, vases, urns and granite — just about everything a cemetery would order for a family.
Brean: "What’s the solution here to get these grieving families what they paid for?"
Fleming: "Well I think cemeteries will need to work with those folks who are waiting and I think there will be delays and we’ll just have to continue with the communication and reach out to these families to make sure that they have updates."
Brean: "I guess one thing cemeteries could do is just not promise families they’re going to get things within four to six weeks."
Fleming: "Yeah I can’t comment on a particular transaction but certainly families should be aware that there will be delays. It’s not a great answer and it’s unfortunate that families have to face these delays but the reality is the cemetery is not making the product."
Not far from the strips of blue tape on the crypts, like the one with Phillip Demanchick’s name, the cemetery signs says there is to be no tape on crypts.
"We know we’re dealing with that vendor and we’re going to make sure we push them to the best of our ability to get things moving in a fast way," Mayor Evans said.
Monday afternoon, the plaque vendor, Matthews International, called me and Lisa and promised to have Phillip’s plaque delivered by Friday, Feb. 25.
I told the vendor that the Damenchick family isn’t the only family affected.
Matthews International said it is doing an audit on its orders with Riverside Cemetery.
How difficult is the situation with cemeteries in New York?
According to Fleming at the state association, one cemetery in New York is telling families if they order a flat granite marker it’s a minimum of 14 to 16 weeks six to nine months for a headstone.
One cemetery ordered two trucks last July and they still haven’t been shipped.
In December, another cemetery was told it would wait a year for cremation equipment and the cost was 10% higher.