Klamath Falls cemetery closed

Klamath Falls, Ore. – The closure of a cemetery has many people in Klamath Falls up in arms.

Eternal Hills and Memorial Gardens was busy Father’s Day – as many people prepared for the cemetery to close.

“I came out today because we were told that we have until 7 A.M. Monday morning to pick up the flowers,” said Becky Clinton. “And all of the section where my folks are buried are gone.”

Marni Morrow has several relatives and friends buried at Eternal Hills.  “Families have suffered enough with our losses of loved ones that are here, and now Eternal Hills is taking it upon themselves to keep us from here.”

The Oregon Mortuary and Cemeteries Board revoked Eternal Hills license in March of last year.

The revocation followed complaints over service costs, failure to meet industry standards, and accusations of mishandling of remains.

Former Director Bob Gordon says the closure is due to the freezing of an $800,000 care fund.

“Ran out of money,” explained Gordon. “Been a lot of thefts, and we no longer can afford the insurance.”

Gordon says the state has refused to grant certification to a non-profit group to operate the cemetery. “The cemetery needs to be re-licensed with some entity, to operate.  Because without licensing, there is no revenue, and without revenue, it can’t be maintained.”

Mike Greenstreet says he thinks Eternal Hills is denying people access to their own property. “Because everybody that has a plot out here, owns the plot.  And a portion of what you paid for the plot pays for perpetual care – and that is a contract issue.”

But for now, the gates to Eternal Hills and Memorial Gardens are closed.

It’s unknown when, or if, Eternal Hills will reopen.

Many of the people we talked with Sunday say they’re exploring a variety of legal options.

Robert Gordon is urging those with complaints to contact the Oregon Mortuary and Cemetery Board.

KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's.  He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle's job history is quite colorful. 

He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand.  A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer.  In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.

"The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain.  Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".

When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.

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