House approves Orcutt bill to clean up abandoned Centralia cemetery


Few things are as sad as a cemetery that has been abandoned – even locked up to keep surviving family members out. That's the story at a privately owned cemetery in Centralia. However, good news is on the horizon, thanks to a bill approved Tuesday in the state House of Representatives. Kelley Payne reports.

PAYNE: (:68) Tall weeds rise up from open burial vaults. Trash scatters the area. Tree branches, pipefittings and other debris sit in some of the open grave plots at the Greenwood Memorial Park in Centralia. Although people want to take care of their families' graves, they've been turned away.

The owner lost his operating license and the cemetery is now abandoned. So Representative Ed Orcutt has offered a solution. . . House Bill 1801.

ORCUTT (:22) “The only process that we currently have to do any maintenance inside the cemetery is for a non-profit to step up and be issued a certificate. Unfortunately, we're not finding any non-profits that want to step up and do it, but we do have a city that is willing to do that. So this bill authorizes the city to be able to get a certificate to go in and do the maintenance on this abandoned cemetery.”

PAYNE: During floor debate, Orcutt offered an amendment adding an emergency clause on the bill so it can take effect immediately upon being signed. The 20th District lawmaker explained it would allow cleanup and maintenance of the cemetery before Memorial Day to honor those buried at Greenwood – and their families.

The amendment was accepted and the bill passed the House unanimously. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
Kelley Payne, Olympia.

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