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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Third-Class Cemeteries in Pennsylvania

From the Pittsburgh (Pa.) Tribune-Review:

Aging volunteers ask city's help in maintaining old cemetery

By Dan Hilliard
for the Valley News Dispatch
Tuesday, June 14, 2005

For the past five years, a group of volunteers with relatives buried in Round Hill Cemetery along Industrial Way have made sure the grass surrounding its chalky tombstones is clipped and neat.

Now, they'd like the city to lend a hand. Preferably two, attached to a lawn mower.

[snip]

The volunteers are backing up their request for city funding and labor with a 1923 state law requiring "townships" to adopt abandoned cemeteries.

Solicitor Stephen Yakopec said the volunteers' reasoning is dead wrong.

According to Yakopec, the law requires only townships to adopt abandoned cemeteries. Lower Burrell dropped its township status and became a Third Class city in 1935.

If state legislators had intended to saddle Third Class cities with abandoned cemeteries, Yakopec said, they would have done so in writing.

[snip]

Despite the city's apparent lack of legal obligations, Mayor Donald Kinosz said he will not allow the cemetery to become an eyesore.

"Ultimately, we've got to take care of it, somehow."

Kinosz said he and Yakopec will meet with the volunteers soon to plot their options.

He also said he will try to contact the cemetery property's last owner, though he said a seance might be more appropriate than a telephone call.

"The ones who started it probably are in it," he said.

[Read the whole story]

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