Klamath Falls, Ore. – A resolution may be nearing for a troubled cemetery in Klamath Falls.
A tentative bankruptcy settlement has been reached regarding Eternal Hills Cemetery.
“This will, as it progresses, give us legal access to the property.” Explains Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot. “And give the trustee the ability to spend the dollars that are held in trust that is supposed to be used to upkeep the property.”
Complaints over costs, failure to meet industry standards, and claims of mishandling of remains were raised in 2014.
A series of more than a dozen formal complaints led to suspension of Eternal Hills and Memorial Gardens license to operate in 2016.
Involuntary bankruptcy proceedings began in 2017.
“The first time, as I understand ever, forced the owner of a cemetery into bankruptcy.” Notes DeGroot. “So it was a forced bankruptcy.”
Eternal Hills was even closed to the public for a brief period.
Conditions deteriorated to the point where volunteers went in to clean up the property.
“The dollars that are supposed to be used to maintain the property were tied up, access to the property was very limited.” DeGroot points out. “In fact, technically, anybody that’s been out there has been trespassing.”
DeGroot adds completion of the bankruptcy process will also allow for eventual sale of the property. “Whether that is a new proprietor that’s going to operate it – I know that there have been brief, tentative conversations about the county’s role in all of this.”
The future of Eternal Hills and Memorial Gardens remains unclear.
But, resolution of the bankruptcy issue is likely to bring the future of the cemetery into sharper focus.
Attorneys caution NBC5 that formal completion of the bankruptcy process by the state may still take several weeks.