Local cemetery in disrepair, multiple headstones knocked over

A Morgantown woman found her dad’s headstone overturned at a local cemetery and wants to get the word out to others with loved ones there that their resting places may be damaged.
Andrea Sukeruksa’s dad has been buried at East Oak Grove Cemetery for nine years. On Sunday, Sukeruksa and her mother went to place new flowers in preparation for the anniversary of his death.
“When we got there we were completely shocked to find out his headstone had fallen,” she said.
Calls were made to the monument company and the two went to the cemetery office, but since it was Sunday no one was there, Sukeruksa said.
After leaving the office, Sukeruksa noticed several other headstones were knocked over and took pictures of them. She also found a dead, dried tree that had fallen down and pushed at least three headstones off their bases.
Sukeruksa posted photos of the fallen headstones and raised her concerns about the cemetery on several local Facebook groups so their loved ones could see them.
The office told her the tree had been down since Friday but other people in the community said it’s been there for months, she said.
The next day, Sukeruksa’s mom called the office to find out why she wasn’t notified the headstone was down — the grounds keepers cut the grass around the headstone so they clearly knew it had fallen, Sukeruksa said.
She was told that the cemetery did not notify families when there was something wrong with their plot because the cemetery’s phone records weren’t updated and it would be too much work to update them all.
“I could understand if they tried to call and the number was disconnected but they didn’t even try,” Sukeruksa said.
The Dominion Post went to East Oak Grove Cemetery on Tuesday and was told by secretary Tammy Spring the manager, Karl Yagle, was part time and would not be in on Tuesday. He did not reach out in time for this report.
Sukeruksa said the overall state of the cemetery was a disrespect to the people buried there.
“I would like for the management of the cemetery to take some responsibility,” Sukeruksa said. “I mean you pay a lot of money for these burial plots and they’re supposed to be maintained.”
She suggested putting something at the front gate for people to fill out with updated contact information.
Spring said the cemetery has employees who don’t come into work and who don’t work when they are there. She also said the cemetery operates with limited funds.
Vandalism is a problem at the cemetery, which prompts the gate to be shut every night, Spring said. The cemetery is easily accessible by foot from several parts of Dorsey Avenue.
“People knocking markers over, drug paraphernalia,” she said. “We go through in the morning and it’s crazy what we pick up.”
Cpt. Mark Ralston of the Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office said the department has only received one report this year from East Oak Grove Cemetery and it was about a grounds keeper whose lunchbox and cell phone were stolen.
There have been no reports of vandalism or request for extra patrols, he said. However, the department has patrolled the area nine times in the last six months and has eyes on it anytime a deputy is in the Dorsey Avenue area.
With the amount of territory the department is responsible for, almost a dozen checks just for the purpose of checking, without a specific request to do so, is “fantastic,” Ralston said.
“Since we do know now there’s a problem, what I’ll do is go ahead and have our guys make sure they try to get through there a little bit more often,” he said.

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