AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – First News has received emails and calls from people who have deceased loved ones buried at Austintown cemeteries. People are frustrated over the rules at these cemeteries and the way they are now being enforced. We talked with people about the change.

Chris Terlesky’s mother is buried at Four Mile Run Cemetery. He says the items he had at his mother’s grave were destroyed.

“She’s been in the ground for 12 years and never had this problem,” Terlesky said.

Recently, Austintown Township trustees voted to start enforcing rules that were already posted at township cemeteries. Trustee Monica Deavers says the rules weren’t being followed.
Some people are upset with the way the township went about telling people.

“They didn’t mail anybody anything of the rule change. They notified people by typing up a letter and even writing hand notes on the letters. They put them in a Ziplock bag and they zip tied them to people’s grave markers, which I think is the most horrible way of doing things,” said Lorraine Reynolds-Federovitch.

Terlesky said last week, township road crews removed flags, edging and decorative stones from grave sites.

“It looked really disturbing in a cemetery to have those guys trampling all over your loved ones,” Terlesky said.

Reynolds-Federovitch said a military medallion she had on her father’s grave went missing for some time.

“When he passed away, we were told we could put whatever we wanted there,” Reynolds-Federovitch said.

Trustees Robert Santos and Deavers agree they could have communicated with the residents better.

“I feel bad it was done the way it was done, but it’s time now however to start following rules which were never enforced by the previous administration,” Deavers said.

Santos says he’s hopeful they can come up with a compromise so that residents can honor their loved ones how they see fit while not hindering the road department’s job of making sure the cemeteries look nice.

“I do greatly, sincerely apologize for how this turn of events has happened. There was definitely a better way that things could have been processed,” Santos said.

There is a meeting on Sunday at Charly’s Restaurant for people to talk about the cemetery rules and look for solutions. They hope to take a plan to Monday’s township meeting.