Memorial Day advice: Report cemetery maintenance issues

Memorial Day weekend is a time when many Ohio cemeteries will attract visitors wanting to honor those who died while serving in the military.

The Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Real Estate & Professional Licensing is charged with ensuring the proper maintenance and operation of cemeteries and encourages families to report any issues they spot at Ohio cemeteries to cemetery management.

“For many Ohioans, Memorial Day is more than a time to barbecue or a day off from work,” said Commerce Director Sherry Maxfield. “It’s a time to remember those who gave their lives in service to this country. Cemetery visits play an important role on this occasion. We encourage those who visit their loved ones and heroes to report any issues to the cemetery property owners. If issues cannot be resolved locally, do not hesitate to contact our agency.”

The Division’s laws and guidelines for the maintenance and operation of cemeteries help keep cemeteries clean and inviting. These guidelines include cutting the grass at least once a month, removing trash and funeral flowers monthly, along with maintaining and repairing roads, buildings, and fencing as necessary.

If cemetery visitors notice those guidelines are not being met: 

• They should bring it to the attention of the cemetery’s management.

• If the issue cannot be resolved with cemetery management, file a complaint with the Ohio Cemetery Dispute Resolution Commission by downloading a complaint form online or by emailing [email protected]

• A copy of the complaint will be sent to the cemetery operator for a response. If a response is not issued within 30 days of the complaint, the complainant and the cemetery operator will receive a notice to appear before the Commission.

• The Commission works to resolve disputes through informal mediation.

The Division opened 257 cemetery complaints over the last five years that have generated an average of 68 hearings each year. Those complaints have resulted in cemeteries correcting issues, refunds, and the waiving of other fees, as well as services and merchandise being provided at no charge. During the same five-year period, The Commission has also made 89 referrals to local county prosecutor offices and the Attorney General’s Office over the last five years.

In addition, the Division’s cemetery grant program offers the opportunity for registered cemeteries to apply for funds to help with exceptional maintenance and training of cemetery personnel.

This month, the city of Troy used grant funds to offer a headstone restoration to train volunteers and cemetery personnel from the area in the proper procedures for restoring headstones.

“The grant program is a significant resource for helping Ohio’s cemeteries provide care for our cemeteries,” said Anne Petit, Division superintendent. “We want Ohioans to honor the memories of our veterans without any worry. Our maintenance and operation guidelines help ensure cemeteries do so year-round. If you see something, say something.”

For more info, visit www.com.ohio.gov/divisions-and-programs/real-estate-and-professional-licensing/cemeteries.

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