Floral Hills Memory Gardens at both the Ross County and Pickaway County locations are heading toward a resolution of their long-standing problems

Sharing two newspaper reports about two Ohio cemeteries – with the same name – one in Ross County and the other one in Pickaway County.  

They are Floral Hills Memory Gardens.  News about their situations has been shared in several posts on this blog. 

First, thanking Sheridan Hendrix for researching and writing this news story primarily regarding the Floral Hills Memory Gardens location in Ross County that was published in the “Columbus Dispatch” on October 3, 2019. :

“Despite Law Change, Ohio’s abandoned cemeteries still in limbo” 

Abandoned, yet active, cemeteries are an increasing reality in Ohio. 

Because of this fact, a broader outreach to educate the general public about them is important.

This feature article also cites and has links to stories that have been published about Fairview Memorial Park in Delaware County, and Grandview Memorial Park in Portage County — both cemeteries were victims of criminal activity committed by their owners who are currently in prison. 

A sobering focus details the ongoing maintenance issues for those left behind  through no fault of their own.   

It has been six years since Dave Robertson began tending to the 37-acre lawn of Floral Hills Memory Gardens near Chillicothe.”

I’d rather we don’t ever need to write and read stories like this one, but since they are a reality, bringing increased awareness about them IS needed. 

This is a sobering story indeed.  So sad because it should not have to be that in the 21st Century, and in Ohio, we have abandoned and orphaned, active cemeteries that have also lost their registration with the state.  

Those with complaints about such cemeteries must proceed through the steps of first submitting them to the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission (“OCDRC”)  The OCDRC will investigate the complaint and act upon it accordingly.Because of the passage of HB 168 in 2018, the OCDRC can refer the case to a local Court of Common Pleas. Next, will be the appointment of a suitable Receiver who will have the duty of handling the operations of the cemetery, which includes re-registering it with the Department of Real Estate; until a permanent owner can be found.

 

Meanwhile, the adversely affected cemetery sits with no legal owner to care for it in all of the ways a cemetery deserves to be maintained. 

 

 Hopefully, the Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Ross County gets the much-needed and long-awaited help in the form of a Receiver and finding a suitable and permanent owner for it.   

“Clean Up Floral Hills” – on Facebook Ross County Location. 

  

Now, we turn our attention to this notice published in the “Circleville Herald”:

“Notice:”

Publish Date:

Friday, September 27, 2019

Notice Content

NOTICE OF COMPLAINT FOR FORECLOSURE OF REAL ESTATE TAX LIEN 

“Notice is hereby given that an action against Ronald L. Downey and Joseph L. Miller, in the Court of Common Pleas, Pickaway County, OH, 207 S. Court Street, Circleville, OH 43113, was filed on 3/14/19 styled Ellery Elick, Treasurer, Pickaway County, Ohio, Plaintiff v. Ronald L. Downey, et al, Defendants, Case No. 2019DLT003. 

The Complaint is to foreclose the lien of real estate taxes due and payable on the real property known as Floral Hills Cemetery, US 23 and Little Walnut Road, Circleville, OH 43113, PPN M30-0-004-00-037-00, M30-0-004-00-033-02, M30-0-004-00-048-00, M30-0-004-00-038-00 and M30-0-004-00-039-00, last transfer OR Vol. 615, Pg. 2642; OR Vol. 646, Pg. 2365. Legal description can be viewed on the Pickaway County Recorders website at countyfusion2.kofiletech.us. The prayer in the complaint is: 1. The Treasurer be found to have a good and valid lien on the within described real property, in the sums of $55,246.63, 11,974.61, 8,648.27, 8,648.27 and 976.67, respectively, plus accrued taxes, assessments, penalties, interest and costs. 2. That all defendants be required to set up their claims or be forever barred. 3. That unless the amount found to be due to this plaintiff be paid within a reasonable time as established by this Court, the equity of redemption be foreclosed and an order of sale issue to the Sheriff of Pickaway County, Ohio directing him to sell the real property which is the subject of this action as provided in 5721.19 ORC. 4. Such other and further relief in law and in equity as proper. All defendants are required to answer the complaint within 28 days after the last publication of this notice which will be published once each week for six successive weeks. The last publication will be made on 11/01/19 and the 28 days for answer will commence on that date. if defendant fails to answer or otherwise respond as required, judgment by default will be rendered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint. Jeffrey A. Catri Asst. Prosecuting Attorney Pickaway County, Ohio 203 South Scioto Street, P.O. Box 910 Circleville, Ohio 43113 (740) 474-6066 Phone JAMES W. DEAN, CLERK OF COURTS 207 SOUTH COURT STREET CIRCLEVILLE, OHIO 43113 (740) 474-5231 September 27, 2019 October 4, 11, 18, 25, 2019 Nov 1, 2019 Circleville Herald – 561581″

At this time, it is unknown if there is a precedent in Ohio where an active, yet abandoned, cemetery went into foreclosure and was sold at a Sheriff’s sale. 

 

Questions remain.:

It is unclear what the reasons are that the Pickaway County Floral Hills Memory Gardens apparently would not also have a Receiver assigned to it rather than the cemetery be offered in a Sheriff’s sale?

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Or, why hasn’t the municipality where the cemetery is located accept responsibility for its ownership during the past decade?  Would it finally agree to accept it if the cemetery fails to get a new owner through the Sheriff’s sale?

Ohio veteran finds wife’s grave in ‘unacceptable’ condition

Ossie Tacket is an 89-year-old military veteran battling prostate cancer.

Source: Ohio veteran finds wife’s grave in ‘unacceptable’ condition

An Excerpt from this story.:
“The Ohio Department of Commerce is in charge of overseeing the enforcement of the laws related to cemeteries and released this statement today:

The oversight of Ohio’s cemeteries is a responsibility we take seriously. The passage of House Bill 168 helps by giving the Division more authority to assist in cemetery complaints and ensuring that cemeteries are complying with Ohio Cemetery Law. Additionally, a grant program will be established through this passage, which will offset some of the maintenance and training costs associated with operating a cemetery. Our team is hard at work formulating the guidelines for the implementation of this new law, specifically the Cemetery Grant Program.

Like most bills, the new law goes into effect 90 days after the Governor signs it.

Unfortunately, the law will have no immediate impact for the Tacket’s current situation. However, it should make it so things like what happened to them do not happen to other families.”

Floral Hills has been in legal disputes for years, ever since the sale of the cemetery.

Tacket says, the original owners he purchased the plot, vault, headstone and plaque from were wonderful people who cared about the cemetery.

He says it has gone downhill since the sale.

A volunteer has been trying to maintain the cemetery as the legal disputes have not been settled.

“Floral Hills Memory Gardens remains plagued by absent owners”

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This once registered cemetery, that is still active, has not had a legal owner for several years.  

 

This situation of unwanted abandonment has meant plot owners, and family and friends of those buried at Floral Hills Memory Gardens — as well as additional help from caring and concerned volunteers — have all had to continually step in to maintain the grounds and gravesites.  

 

This story describes the events causing this long crisis and how its effects are creating unbearable hardship and heartache for those who have friends and loved ones buried at Floral Hills Memory Gardens; a modern cemetery that once held so much promise to be a beautiful place of eternal peace and rest.

 

Answers need to come for Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Chillicothe (and also the Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Circleville), and soon.  

“Clean Up Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Chillicothe Facebook Page”

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Clean Up Day at Floral Hills Memory Gardens in Circleville, Pickaway County, Ohio: Saturday, May 20th, 2017 starting at 9:30a.m.

FLORAL HILLS MEMORY GARDENS CIRCLEVILLE PICKAWAY COUNTY - 2017 CLEAN UP NOTICE - 2

If you live in the general vicinity of Pickaway County, Ohio and are looking for a great volunteer opportunity at a cemetery that truly needs help, please consider joining others who are planning on conducting clean up work at the Floral Hills Memory Gardens.   

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Contact Connie Little – 740-418-3525 for more information.

gravestone-black-white-clipart-3 

Volunteers struggle to maintain abandoned cemeteries

CIRCLEVILLE, Ohio — Ed Thompson knelt over his father’s grave Tuesday afternoon and, using a trowel, scraped the hardened dirt until it loosened enough that he could spread it into the deep holes that had formed just since his last visit. Then he moved on down the row to the freshly dug grave of a man he had never met and did the same thing. Then another. And another.

Source: Volunteers struggle to maintain abandoned cemeteries