Tulare Cemetery Chair Apologizes to Martin Family

Tulare Public Cemetery District (TPCD) Chair Steve Presant gave a public apology to the Martin Family over the handling of their daughter’s graveside services on March 27. During Jessica Martin’s service family members looked on as the cemetery staff bobbled her casket and forbade anyone from leaving their cars.

Prior to the service, Tulare Cemetery Office Manager Leonor Castaneda had allegedly threatened to lock them out of the cemetery if they continued to call the district office.

At the TPCD June 25 meeting, Preseant said that he had “displayed insensitivity to the grief of the Martin family” then read the following letter:

“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Martin and Family we sincerely apologize for the undeserved hardship and difficulties that you experienced at your daughter’s funeral. We are saddened by the loss of your daughter. There is nothing more horrifying the loss of a child. We regret that the misfortunate events added more grief onto what is already a extremely painful circumstance.

“Unfortunately this was a learning experience during a pandemic that we were not ready for. We are dedicated to look at the decisions that we made that could have been done differently. We are committed to adding additional Grief and bereavement training for our employees. Once again please accept our condolences for loss of your daughter and our heartfelt apology for the unnecessary pain cause at your daughter’s funeral.”

To see the entire meeting streamed by Alex Guitierrez please visit the Caring Cause Facebook.

Because the district office must hold meetings outside for lack of facilities during COVID, quality of sound is unfortunately an issue during the streaming. TPCD is the only entity in Tulare or Kings Counties that requires the public and its board members to attend meetings in person during COVID.

The Tulare County Board of Supervisors has stepped up and strongly encouraged the district to provide remote access. In fact, it was for the safety of the cemetery employees that the Martin family was forbidden to serve as pallbearers. For this reason, it is now assumed they will conduct their meetings remotely out of concern for office manager, Leonor Castaneda, who is required to attend.

In a statement from Tammie Weyker-Adkins, County Public Information Officer,

“The issue of Zoom meetings has been brought up to the Cemetery Board. The Chair seems open to the request to have Zoom meetings available for the public. The meeting today has already been agendized, however, so this issue would be for the next meeting.”

The next meeting will be July 23.



5 thoughts on “Tulare Cemetery Chair Apologizes to Martin Family

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  1. Too little too late, no staff have been dismissed, no board members have resigned. Nothing has changed.

    • At the previous monthly board mtg I attended, I asked about Zoom because 2 board members due to age and a spouse with health issue they didn’t want to attend in person. I was told by chair and vice chair they had no way to accommodate this request. It was during public comments so should be in meeting notes. Mrs Doe was in attendance also.

  2. Curious of what Ms. Castaneda’s actual day to day duties are and the official job description and qualifications required for the position of office manager at the Tulare Public Cemetery. Same curiosity applies to the groundsmen positions. Curious as to how the decision to utilize untrained staff to pitch hit as pall bearers came about and who had the final say in making that judgement call. I haven’t viewed the video posted of this last meeting yet. Were any of these touched on during the meeting?

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