Ohioans encouraged to report rundown cemetery conditions

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The law can hold the cemeteries accountable

VIENNA, Ohio (WKBN) – Many Ohioans will visit cemeteries during the holiday weekend and unfortunately, some will find issues with the conditions. But, the state has some tips on how to handle it and what you can do.

Doud Cemetery in Vienna got a clean-up recently. A dozen people reset four tombstones and cleaned over 40 markers with a special solution. In a few weeks, they’ll be clean.

Cemeteries are a final resting place. They shouldn’t cause any strife but sometimes loved ones see conditions they don’t like.

“Most of that does center around maintenance issues,” said Anne Petit, superintendent of the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing.

The division ensures the proper maintenance and operation of cemeteries.

The state has minimum maintenance guidelines that were put into law. The main ones include:

  • Cutting the grass at least once a month
  • Removing trash and funeral flowers monthly
  • Maintaining roads, buildings and fencing
  • Having a map to identify all graves

If cemetery visitors notice those guidelines are not being met, the first thing is to bring it to the attention of the cemetery’s management.

“We always would prefer that the two parties attempt to work it out first,” Petit said.

If the issue cannot be resolved, you can file a complaint with the state either through an online form or by emailing Web.Real@com.state.oh.us. A copy will be sent to the cemetery operator and if a response is not issued within 30 days, both sides will appear before the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission.

The law can hold the cemeteries accountable.

“The Dispute Resolution Commission does have the authority to refer to a county prosecutor if necessary,” Petit said.

Cemeteries hope it doesn’t get that far. They’re willing to work with people, reasonably, but want to hear about the problem first from them and use the state as a last resort.

“To file a complaint and have that, hopefully, reasonable and timely resolved,” Petit said.

The state even has a grant program to help cemeteries pay for some of these upkeep issues.

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