HENSLEY, Ark. – In the past three years, the Arkansas Insurance Department said there have been over 100 complaints filed against the Rest in Peace Memorial Gardens in Hensley.
Most of the complaints center around grave markers which can’t be found, often buried just out of sight due to dirt, grass, or standing water.
Cheryl Yancy trudged through the grounds when visiting her mother’s and father’s graves Wednesday.
“We pay too much to have our loved ones buried and to have to lay in this. It is unacceptable,” Yancy said.
She started a group on Facebook called “Petition Rest in Peace” uniting the people who have filed complaints against Rest in Peace Memorial Garden over the years.
According to the Arkansas Funeral Services Division, there were 25 complaints in 2021, the number climbed to 84 complaints in 2022, and there have been eight complaints so far in 2023.
“We shouldn’t have to complain and complain and complain. We did everything you asked us to do. Call your governor and say, ‘Hey, we need some laws,’” Yancy said.
The State Board overseeing cemeteries met in January to find resolutions for these problems. They found no violations under Arkansas code 20-17-1013(a)(2)(A) but are increasing supervision over the cemetery.
The board ordered that for the next six months cemetery director Percy Webb forward all work orders to board staff within 24 hours of receipt of each work order. They also mandated all pending work orders be completed within 30 days.
Cemetery Director Percy Webb denied an interview but said the cause of the sunken markers is soft ground, and the solution is for people to pay him to raise the markers. However, some people insist the markers are pushed down because of equipment running over them.
“I’m not going to pay if you damaged something,” Yancey alleged.
“It shouldn’t be so hard just do the right thing,” Tracey Turner said.
When visiting her mother’s and brother’s graves, Turner has to watch her step.
“This is a sloppy mess,” Turner said noting tire tracks on the grounds. “Tractors clearly ran over this headstone.”
Turner claims her mother’s casket was damaged by the machine digging her brother’s space, but Webb said caskets like hers get damaged by elements over time if unprotected by a concrete or metal container.
She wants to exhume her mother’s body after all this but feels the cemetery should cover the costs.
“Dead or alive she’s my momma,” Turner said, “And I owe it if nothing more to the memory of her to make sure that she’s fixed.”