Preservation Kentucky’s Online Quarterly Newsletter
State to Study Cemetery Protection
(Reprinted from the Courier-Journal, May 23, 2001)
KY – Amid news reports of mismanagement and grave desecration,
Attorney Ben Chandler has created a panel to recommend changes in the
oversight of cemeteries.
Of the more than 900 identified cemeteris in
Kentucky, only about 30 percent 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 in a news release Monday.
The Task Force on the
Preservation of Kentucky Cemeteries, which meets for the first time next
Wednesday in Louisville, will determine what actions are needed to protect
the integrity of the state’s cemeteries.
Last week, 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 Chandler’s
office that they could not find graves of loved ones.
A Fayette 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. Chandler has also worked on problems at three Louisville
cemeteries where 115,000 people are buried.
Reginald Meeks, D-Louisvillle, will be chairman of the 24-member task
force, which is comprised of representatives from groups including the
Kentucky League of Cities and the African-American Heritage and Native
American Heritage Commissions.
An effort to have a statewide study of
cemeteries never got out of the Senate at the 2001 General Assembly. The
task force is due to make its report by September 30 so lawmakers can
consider legislation again next year.
The task force will assess
physical conditions and the number of insolvent cemeteries in the state,
the number of abandoned cemeteries, the role of state and local government
in overseeing cemeteries, and identification of federal or private funding
The availability of cemetery space in Kentucky will be
determined. The task force will also establish a system for citizens to
report cemeteries that need attention from state and local government even
though they are private and exempt from state