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Family Upset at Condition of Gravesite in Milton

By: Olivia Fecteau Email
By: Olivia Fecteau Email

MILTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – One month after her mother’s death, Debbie Lawhorn is still upset at what she calls “deplorable” conditions at her mother’s gravesite.

“It’s been a complete nightmare,” Lawhorn said.

Lawhorn said they’ve faced a series of problems since her mother, Pauline Sutphin, was laid to rest at Forest Memorial Park Cemetery in Milton.

She said the process of getting her mother buried was disorganized, but worse yet is the condition of her grave – both now, and when it was freshly dug in late July.

“It was horrible because they had not tamped the ground, they had not added topsoil, they had not done nothing,” Lawhorn said.

She and her husband filed a work order through the cemetery, but Lawhorn said nothing was done. Instead, she said workers spread straw over the sunken dirt and left it like that.

“That's up to my elbow, it's sunk that low,” Lawhorn said, pushing her arm into the sunken soil beside the tombstone. took her concerns to the sales manager of the cemetery, Bill Waugh, who said there are three grounds crew workers for upwards of 12,000 graves.

Still, Waugh said the crew tries to inspect and maintain the graves as much as possible, but the rainy weather has exacerbated the sinking soil.

“No family should have to do this to their own parent's grave,” Lawhorn said. “This is a perpetual care cemetery. That means they've got the funds to take care of this."

She added, “I have not had an opportunity to grieve my mother's loss. There are so many things that need to be taken care of and corrected that have not been.”

Waugh noted that the man in charge of the grounds crew is currently on sick leave, after falling into a hole out in the cemetery and getting hurt.

For now, Lawhorn and her husband said they have chosen to take matters into their own hands and try to fix the grave, rather than waiting for the grounds crew to fix it this coming week.

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