HAZARD — The Hazard Herald has been reporting updates about the ongoing process to establish procedures for the upkeep of Riverside Cemetery in Hazard. The meeting to discuss actions moving forward was held on July 22 at the Perry County Public Library. Those in attendance included Judge Executive Scott Alexander, Kenneth Hall, Attorney Mike Roper, videographer Bobby Day, who operated a live video stream of the meeting on Facebook and about 30 members of the community.
Kenneth Hall brought the meeting to order and gave recognition to Allen Webb and Cheyenne Crutcher for the work they have done cutting grass at Riverside Cemetery free of charge. The couple has been working as best they can tending to the cemetery since Memorial Day. Hall spoke of the need to form a board to oversee matters of interest concerning Riverside Cemetery specifically, with one of the primary interests being the cemetery’s upkeep throughout the grass cutting season.
Several of the citizens associated with Riverside Cemetery have presented concerns and thoughts regarding the recycling center next to the cemetery. Judge Alexander spoke in reference to those concerns. The recycling plant is privately owned and has operated for years at the same location. The business owner is not prepared to move, and by right of private ownership is not required to do so. Judge Alexander stated that any attempt by representatives of the cemetery to take legal action would probably be tied up in court for a lengthy time-frame. However, Alexander did pledge to talk with the owner of the recycling center to see if the wall in front of the cemetery could be repaired and made to look better.
Alexander also stated that a county-wide cemetery board is in place, consisting of Larry Gross, Chub Smith, Jimmy Maggard Jr., Kenneth Hall and Stacy Smith. Although this board does not oversee Riverside specifically, the board does serve the purpose of identifying each cemetery in Perry County and addressing concerns associated with the cemeteries. Alexander said because coal severance funds are down, not as many resources are available to help Perry County cemeteries, but he is hoping that grants will be able to help with the matter in the future.
Allen Webb requested an additional “No Dumping” sign for the cemetery, to which Judge Alexander said he would oblige. Alexander also said placing a dumpster at the cemetery permanently is not something that can be done at this time. He suggested that old flowers and other debris from the cemetery could be taken to the dumpster at the Perry County Park. Alexander also said that it might be possible to place a dumpster at Riverside in the month prior to Memorial Day and the month after. Discussion of this issue will continue.
One of the biggest topics of interest throughout this process has been ownership of Riverside Cemetery and who exactly carries the responsibility of overseeing the graves’ care. Kenneth Hall addressed this issue at the July 22 meeting. The following explanation has been taken directly from the minutes of the July 22 meeting, which were kept by Cheryl Spurlock.
“Riverside Cemetery is a non profit cemetery owned by individuals who own their own plots. The majority if not all of the people who own the plots have a deed for those plots. Resthaven is a perpetual care cemetery which means that Mr. Hall owns the cemetery at Resthaven in Jeff, Kentucky and money from the opening and closing of the graves go in a fund. He is paid from this fund for the upkeep of the cemetery. RIVERSIDE IS NOT A PERPETUAL CARE CEMETERY. Mr. Hall stated that the cemetery has been owned by different people throughout the years from way back. It has had several caretakers over the years. Mr. Hall was approached by a Mr. Randy Stacy to purchase the cemetery at Riverside. Mr. Hall signed a deed from Mr. Stacy which essentially gave him all “unowned” plots to the cemetery. Mr. Hall did not pay any money to Mr. Stacy for the cemetery. During Mr. Stacy’s ownership of the property he did a thorough search at the Clerk’s office and put on a spreadsheet and c.d. all the deeds he could find to properties in the cemetery. Mr. Hall does have this spreadsheet and c.d. To Mr. Hall’s knowledge and understanding, upon the death of Mr. Ishmael Stacy, his daughter Kim was given the unsold plots at the cemetery. At some point, Mr. Randy Stacy obtained the deed to the unsold plots and Mr. Stacy deeded these to Mr. Hall.”
Also at the July 22 meeting, a motion was passed to establish a Board of Directors, which will oversee the cemetery’s care. Allen Webb was voted Chair of the Board, with Cheryl Spurlock serving as secretary. Cheyenne Crutcher was elected Treasurer of the Board. Additional Board members include Kenneth Hall and Brenda Cornett.
Mike Roper agreed to assist with the legal process necessary for establishing an official Board. Three names were given as possibilities for the corporation; Riverside Cemetery of Hazard, Kentucky, Friends of Riverside Cemetery and Riverside Cemetery Restoration. A final decision on the name of the corporation will be made by the Board within the next two weeks.
The following statement has been taken directly from the July 22 meeting’s minutes, which are posted in Riverside Cemetery’s Facebook group.
“An oversight board has control over the upkeep and maintenance of the cemetery such as maintaining the grass cutting, cleaning, roadway etc. This is something that has needed to be done for a lot of years. If you have family there it is very important that you come and have input, if you do not then when something is done you will not know what is going on and can’t complain if you disagree. It is a point and place to discuss. Again it does not give the board control over your property rights. You have a deed to your property. They will be putting up signs on who, how and where to get in contact with the proper people to talk to, this being the board and who they are.”
At the next Board meeting a date will be set for another public conference. Bobby Duff’s video of the July 22 meeting and minutes from the meeting can be seen at the Facebook group: Riverside Cemetery, Perry County, Kentucky. This is a closed group, meaning new members must send a request to join and be added by an administrator before content can be viewed.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.