Property owner finds solution Bright Star Church Road abandonment request

Published 10:00 am Thursday, April 7, 2022

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Following five months of debating from county officials and voiced uncertainty from citizens, an agreeable compromise was met Tuesday night concerning the fate of an over one-mile-long county road, specifically the small cemetery it hosts.

The Troup County Board of Commissioners voted to only abandon about 400 feet of Bright Star Church Road, just below the cemetery. The road dead ends and borders Troup County and Harris County. The decision was the result of negotiations between the original requester, John McLemore, who represented Mac Farms LLC, and family members of those buried in the cemetery on Bright Star Church Road. This decision will keep the road open for family members to access the cemetery but protect the abandoned portion, which is connected to land owned by McLemore.

In November 2021, the board began the initial discussion of possibly abandoning the road at the request of McLemore, who had plans for the property surrounding the road. McLemore said the road was subject to vandalism and other nefarious actions, such as illegal dumping, putting the cemetery specifically was at risk.

Abandoning the road on the county’s end would have led to McLemore privatizing it, which would have led to it being barred from the public but accessible to families of those buried in the cemetery through a gate code.

However, several family members of those buried in the cemetery, some of which were from outside of Troup County, spoke against this request, concerned that family members would eventually not be able to access the cemetery at all and the cemetery would eventually fall to complete ruin and ultimately be forgotten.

At a previous meeting concerning the abandonment, members of the Bright Star Church on Shake Rag Road and LaGrange city council member Dr. W.T. Edmondson spoke on behalf of concerned constituents. Edmondson said there is a history of African-American cemetery access being denied.

County Engineer James Emery previously added that the cemetery is still being used presently, and that the citizens own the road, and if made private they would not have the same access.

At Tuesday’s meeting, several people who spoke against the abandonment returned to speak in support of McLemore’s new proposal.

One speaker, Idell Burrow of Mableton, Georgia, personally thanked McLemore for his cooperation

“The last time I spoke to you all, my heart was crying, I was hurting, but I really like what this young man proposed,” Burrow said.

In addition to the abandonment adjustment, McLemore also said he would add gravel on the side of the road adjacent to the cemetery to create stable parking for its visitors.