Perpetual Neglect: Monte Vista Cemetery sees overturned, misplaced headstones

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 5:51 PM EDT
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CERES, W.Va. (WVVA) - Mother’s Day weekend WVVA received several messages pointing to a Facebook post with more than 100 shares focused on the concern of Monte Vista Cemetery in Ceres.

Stephanie Dempsey of Operation Respect is one of the people who found the cemetery unkempt. She says she stopped by to see how many flags her organization would need to place there fore Memorial Day, but what she found was a disappointment that hits close to home.

“My grandfather is buried here and I live nearby. I noticed it was overgrown,” said Dempsey.

The overgrowth fueled an outrage not only for Dempsey but for others. We can report that the cemetery has been mowed since Dempsey’s discovery of lax lawncare, but that is not the only problem at Monte Vista.

“A lot of the tombstones have been toppled over and some of the bases of the graves are just plain missing,” said Dempsey.

Possibly the most heartbreaking of all, headstones piled up behind the mausoleum.

Monte Vista is perpetual care, meaning that they are responsible for the continues upkeep of the grounds.

“People pay good money for perpetual care and this looks more like perpetual neglect,” said Dempsey.

It prompted an immediate effort to reach the management company. The number listed for the cemetery is disconnected.

The land is no longer locally owned. Monte Vista now belongs to a corporation called Everstory Partners in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Dempsey says it seems out-of-state leaves the cemetery with an “out of sight out of mind” approach when it comes to upkeep.

“I think once these cemeteries go into corporations it becomes a matter of money and its no longer a property of the community. I think that’s tragic in itself because when you have family in one of these cemeteries you want to have a voice in what happens here,” said Dempsey.

We did reach out to Everstory, which also owns two other cemeteries in Mercer County. We hoped to ask about the upkeep and maintenance records for this and the other local cemeteries they own. The only response was to ask for clarification of our questions, but as of now those questions remain unanswered.

Dempsey hopes to see Monte Vista get the care she believes it deserves.

“I would love to see a caretaker that is here during business hours. If there’s damage to a headstone it needs to be addressed promptly. And I think family members should be notified when there’s an issue,” said Dempsey.

We will share the company’s response when we receive one.