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Sterling -White begins beautifying cemetery

By LEWIS SPEARMAN
HIGHLANDS – Perceived changes involving memorials to loved ones that have passed on are sensitive matters.
Sterling-White Chapel Cemetery representatives talked with the Star-Courier about improvements they are undertaking and clear-up any misunderstandings.
Carriage Services owns the cemetery and plans to continue to do so “as long as the land is here,” according to Managing Partner, Mathew Forastiere. There has been no change in ownership since the Krizaks sold the cemetery many years ago.
Mathew Forastiere and Debbie Starnes, Family Service Manager, are most excited about the future of Sterling–White Cemetery. Two new sections are planned for the Northern end of the cemetery with the most modern of amenities for hedged family estates in lots of twelve, eight or four spaces made available. Specially designed with irrigation, drainage and walkways to start at the roadway and extend North to that end of the property, the family lots will be privately hedged and professionally developed. Plans are currently being submitted and one example will be built on a consignment basis for families to view. Once completed these sections are to take up eight cemetery lots.

Although there is space still available at the extant cemetery’s mausoleum, another chapel style mausoleum is being planned by the cemetery’s developer in part of the (as yet undeveloped) back of the cemetery property. The cemetery’s property continues on back to the San Jacinto River but development currently stops less than 200 yards from existing roadways on the West. There is plenty of room to grow.
A clean up process has begun for the cemetery. It is motivated by safety concerns, beautification aspirations and to properly irrigate the landscape. For example, all of the currently exposed water spigots will, upon completion, be buried then removable high power sprinklers will enable a consistent lawn maintenance watering schedule.
Given that individuals wish to express their feelings with addendum to gardens for their loved ones, many have placed items on grave sites to show their unique grieving. According to Forastiere however, “After nine months of being here, actually putting on a pair of jeans and working in the cemetery, I am finding it is impossible to maintain the cemetery safely and securely with loose and easily broken items being placed around the beautiful marble monuments. When we cut grass with high powered equipment, there is no telling where loose items can be thrown.”
The areas had rains for three months just about solidly, the cemetery is recovering from that period by maintenance.
Once the clean up is accomplished the bell tower, one of the distinguishing features of the cemetery, is to be refurbished.
“I’ve gone back and researched what the cemetery has done in the past in an effort to regulate the gardens that you see around many of these headstones. They had folks come in and submit plans as to what they wanted to do and the cemetery might approve it,” said Forastiere, “Now in their attempt to regulate it sometimes things have gotten out of hand and detract from the natural beauty of the cemetery.”
“The safety of my staff and everyone who visits here is my first concern and then the beauty of the cemetery. I have here a perpetual care cemetery– which means I am required to maintain the grounds and the roadways, loose and easily broken items impedes that goal. When someone purchases property in the cemetery they are buying the right to bury their loved one in that property. When someone puts in an unapproved item they are in violation of the rules and regulations of the cemetery. The rules and regulations of the cemetery are available to them and have been since 1967, when we became perpetual care.”
Forastiere invites those that have questions about what is approved for the cemetery to speak with him or Debbie Starnes about any issues, or to receive the cemetery’s rules and regulations. Flowers are welcome in cemetery approved vases and saddles over the monuments. Sterling White Chapel Cemetery phone number is (281) 426-3555.
Forastiere is from a family that maintains a 104 year old business in western Massachusetts that partnered with Carriage Services in 1998 while he was Funeral Director. He moved to Texas 5 years ago to become Regional Consultant. He moved to Crosby soon after marrying Janna a year ago and has been blessed with a daughter, Sloan.