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Antiquated Law Could Save Historic Cemetery

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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FAYETTE COUNTY (KDKA) — Driving past Oak Grove Cemetery outside of Uniontown, you might not realize how much history it holds.

It’s the final resting place of coal barron JV Thompson, as well as veterans from as far back as the Revolutionary War.

“It’s a very old cemetery, well into the 1700s,” said Fayette County Commissioner Al Ambrosini.

Recently the cemetery has run into tough times.

A new board of directors was appointed in late 2011, after the last member of the previous board passed away.

Under the new leadership, the cemetery has fallen behind in its taxes and found itself on the county’s tax sale list.

“The county is not going to sell the cemetery out from under those people, and certainly the county does not want to own a cemetery,” Ambrosini said.

Even if Oak Grove Cemetery was to go up for sale, finding a buyer would be unlikely. All of the plots in the cemetery are taken, so there is no money to be made.

The cemetery was removed from the tax sale list this week, because the solicitor found legislation from the 1800s showing it should have been tax exempt.

Steps have already been taken to get the cemetery tax exempt status starting in 2014.

But until either a judge, or the entity that is owed the tax forgives it, the back taxes will stand.

The cemetery currently owes taxes for both 2011 and 2012, to Fayette County, the Laurel Highlands School District and South Union Township.

The grand total is around $3,600.

“Obviously, I’m in favor of forgiving the back taxes,” Ambrosini said.

He’s also encouraging the school district and municipality to do the same.

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