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Families upset over damage, maintenance at local cemeteries

A company that owns cemeteries across Central Virginia is coming under fire

LYNCHBURG, Va. – What once was a quiet place to reflect and remember, now causes Debbie Torrence pain. Friday, she visited her family's graves at Fort Hill Memorial Park in Lynchburg and was upset by the conditions: sunken headstones, tire marks, crumbling memorials and damaged tombstones.  

"I'm feeling sad," Torrence said. "It's a shock." 

Debbie's not alone. An online petition has more than 200 signatures demanding Fort Hill's owner-- StoneMor Partners -- have its license to sell burial plots suspended or revoked until conditions improve.

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"It's just a lot of things that need to be done out there. It needs to be cleaned up," Torrence said.

StoneMor owns more than 322 cemeteries in 27 states across the country, including Fort Hill, Virginia Memorial Park and Altavista Memorial Park.

"As much money as they have charged for these plots and everything, they have money to take care of this place," Torrence said. 

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation -- which regulates cemeteries --confirmed there's an open investigation. 

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The department's acting director, Mary Broz Vaughan, said the decision to suspend or revoke a license is based on formally filed complaints and only applies to individual cemeteries.

"The Cemetery Board -- if it determines a regulatory violation, for example, for failure to maintain grounds -- would most likely prefer to bring the cemetery company into compliance. By that, I mean ensuring that grounds were properly maintained rather than perhaps revoking a license," Broz Vaughan said.

WSLS reached out to StoneMor who had no comment.


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