Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Cemetery care will be goal of new panel

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Amid news reports of mismanagement and grave desecration at many cemeteries, Attorney General Ben Chandler has created a panel to recommend changes in oversight of burial sites.

        Of the more than 900 identified cemeteries in Kentucky, only about 30 percent of them are subject to regulation by the state. Many others have maintenance problems and their care is left to family members and volunteers.

        “The loved ones of the deceased might not always be able to provide needed maintenance and respectful attention,” the attorney general said Monday.

        The Task Force on the Preservation of Kentucky Cemeteries, which meets for the first time May 30 in Louisville, will determine what corrective actions are needed to protect the integrity of the state's cemeteries.

        Last week, Mr. Chandler filed a lawsuit to address problems at Cove Haven, a historic African-American cemetery in Lexington. Human bones and pieces of coffins were found on top of the ground, and at least 10 families have complained to Mr. Chandler's office that they could not find grave sites of loved ones. A Fayette County Circuit Court judge halted new burials in most of the cemetery unless they are approved by an archaeologist and the cemetery proves the plots aren't being resold.

        Mr. Chandler has also worked on problems at three Louisville cemeteries where 115,000 people are buried.


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