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.
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.