AROUND MISSISSIPPI — Four cemeteries placed into receivership of the Secretary of State are now one step closer to being placed back into private ownership, as bids on the properties were opened by Secretary Hosemann Aug. 2.
“The opening of these bids was the culmination of a tremendous effort by our agency to get these cemeteries in shape to return them to private, credible ownership,” said Hosemann. “The long and complicated process of obtaining releases for millions of dollars in debt and obtaining title to the properties is now complete. We are preparing to make recommendations to the Prentiss County chancery judge regarding their final sale and plan to do so in the next 30 days.”
Pending a financial review, the Secretary of State’s Office will make the following recommendations to Prentiss County Judge John Hatcher, requesting these entities be confirmed as the successful high bidder:
• Liberty Memorial Park, Booneville — Liberty United Methodist Church; bid: $1
• Pinecrest Memorial Park, Pittsboro — Pinecrest of Calhoun County; bid: $1
• Prentiss Memorial Gardens, Baldwyn — Waters Funeral Home, Baldwyn; bid: Cash payment of $12,500; victim assistance through discounted products and services; upgrades and capital improvements for sidewalks, landscaping and cemetery access roads; and, establishing a veteran’s section. Waters Funeral Home agrees to be contractually bound to perform the upgrades promised in the bid proposal.
• Sunset Gardens Memorial Park, Laurel — Tutor Funeral Home, Magee; bid: Cash payment of $20,100.
Of the $32,602.00 in cash pledged on the cemeteries, approximately $15,790 will be paid to the Internal Revenue Service to pay back taxes for liens against the properties. After expenses, the remaining portion will go to the perpetual care trust for that cemetery.
Based upon findings of the investigations conducted by the Hosemann and the Attorney General Jim Hood, Don Middleton, former owner of the four cemeteries, was convicted on two counts of failure to file cemetery records and has been sentenced to 12 months in jail, plus a $1,800 fine.