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Houston, I Have a Problem: Broken headstones, branches, exposed graves plague Blanchester cemetery

Posted: 6:02 PM, Mar 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-15 22:22:27-04

BLANCHESTER, Ohio -- Kay Stenersen walks through Blanchester's Independent Order of Odd Fellows Cemetery every week to visit her sister, who lies buried there. On a recent walk, she stumbled into an open hole — and felt her boot collide with a coffin just one foot underground.

The casket is still visible and the hole unfilled despite her complaints to the cemetery, she said.

"People have to step up and be accountable," she said. "People have to become involved and not act like it's not happening."

That's not the only maintenance problem she and others have noticed at the cemetery, according to Stenersen and multiple aggrieved posters on Facebook. 

Although parts of it appear well-kept, downed branches and trees litter other parts of the area; some headstones have been broken or tipped over since at least June 2017, Stenersen said.

WCPO reached out to the cemetery's owners for comment, but did not receive a response. However, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows' fraternal organization, The Grand Lodge of Ohio, picked up.

Grandmaster Wayne Long said a fix is coming -- from volunteers.

"A gentleman called me this morning, and he has a group of volunteers that's going to come out and help Charlie Vance get everything cleaned up and straightened up," he said, attributing some of the damage to harsh winter weather. "As soon as the weather breaks, they'll get things cleaned up."

Until that happens, Stenersen said she plans to keep advocating for the dignity of her sister -- and all the other people who can no longer advocate for themselves.