Northeast Mississippi cemeteries ordered to 'cease and desist'

By Daily Journal reports

Jackson, MS — Forrest Memorial Park of Corinth and Oaklawn Memorial Park of Booneville have been ordered to cease and desist with all sales of pre-need goods and services to the public, according to a press release from the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

“We are in the early stages of reviewing the books and records of these two cemeteries,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann in the news release. “Our examiners have already have statements these cemeteries have over $100,000 missing from their perpetual care trust accounts. This is unacceptable. Our agency feels it is in the best interest to the public that we order these cemeteries to cease and desist with pre-need sales until we can determine they can adequately service their contractual obligations.”

Forrest Memorial Park and Oaklawn Memorial Park are owned and operated by Wayne Hight of Corinth. Hight Funeral Home is located on property which adjoins Forrest Memorial Park. The funeral home is not currently subject to the cease and desist order.

“If you currently pay for cemetery lots at either of these cemeteries,” Hosemann said, “we encourage you to continue to do so. We have ordered these funds be placed in a separate account until a final determination can be made on this matter.

“Also, customers should keep making insurance premium payments if they purchased an insurance policy to pay for funeral and cemetery merchandise and services. This cease and desist order is for future pre-need sales only for vaults, markers, and grave opening/closing services paid in either a lump sum or monthly installments.”

An administrative hearing has been scheduled in this case for 10:30 a.m. Friday on the Second Floor Conference Room of the Secretary of State’s Office in Jackson.

Anyone who has a contract with these two cemeteries can contact the Regulation and Enforcement Division of the Secretary of State’s Office at (601) 359-9055.

Unless a purchase is funded with an insurance policy, cemeteries are required to trust 85% of all preneed sales for vaults, memorial markers, and grave opening/closing services. Additionally, 15 percent must be maintained in a separate perpetual care trust on all sales of grave spaces to ensure the long term care and maintenance of the cemetery grounds.