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Local Officials Thinking Ahead with Another Hearing on Abandoned Cemetery in Ross County

Floral Hills Memory Gardens - Chillicothe, at 5284 US Route 23.

Ross County — Floral Hills Memory Gardens may take its first step out of limbo – or it may stay there – after another courtroom hearing coming up Thursday afternoon.

In the meantime, the Huntington Township Trustees discussed the situation and heard legal counsel with the Ross County Commissioners in their session Monday.

The large cemetery south of Chillicothe was abandoned by its private owners more than a decade ago, and volunteers have taken on the large effort to maintain it. (Read about Dave Robertson’s leadership there and watch his interview from three weeks ago.)

Ross County Prosecutor Jeff Marks acts as legal counsel for all county and township offices. He gave his perspectives on the status of the case to the two groups in preparation for a hearing before Judge Mike Ater in the Ross County Court of Common Pleas scheduled for 2:30pm August 17th.

Huntington Township is named as one of the defendants in the case – because if the cemetery is determined to be public, they must accept it and maintain it. One argument is that even though it was privately owned, there was no restricted access or sales, and so it is a de facto public cemetery.

If Floral Hills is determined to be a private cemetery, the painful situation of not having an official owner or any clear way to spend public funds on its maintenance will continue.

To make things worse, the bridge at the public entrance to the cemetery is deteriorating.

Marks gave me a thorough eight-minute interview which you can watch below. (He had had a dental appointment and was embarrassed he was not wearing a tie, and asked for an audio-only interview…so I include a montage of relevant photos.)

Ross County Prosecutor Jeff Marks explains the discussion between the Huntington Township Trustees and Ross County Commissioners on the Floral Hills Memory Gardens situation August 14th, 2023. Most photos from Clean up Floral Hills Memory Gardens on Facebook.
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Raised in Ross County, Bearcat class of '87 at Paint Valley. Wrote a column on history and historic preservation for the Chillicothe Gazette right out of high school, then a bachelors in Journalism in the OU class of '91. After starting my one-man company "Intrepid Heritage Services" in Columbus in 1997 to offer historical research, tours, and talks, I retuned to Ross County in 2003. Have been working as a radio programmer and reporter at Clear Channel / iHeart Media Southern Ohio. Started working with the Scioto Post June 27th, 2023.