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Cemetery owner indicted in dumping incident

SOUTH POINT — For the second time in five years the owner of a prominent Lawrence County cemetery has run afoul of the Ohio EPA. This time, he’s going to court.

Late last week, the Lawrence County Grand Jury indicted Larry Carter, owner of Highland Memorial Gardens in South Point, on charges of open dumping, an unclassified felony.

According to the criminal affidavit originally filed in Lawrence County Municipal Court by Steven Hileman of the Lawrence-Scioto Solid Waste District, on June 3, 2009, Carter “did knowingly dispose of solid waste (plastic flowers) and other miscellaneous debris by throwing over the east hillside off 198 Pvt Rd 1336 (Highland Memorial Cemetery) in violation of the ORC 3734.03 Open Dumping.”

Clint Shuff, of the Ohio EPA, said there are two legitimate methods of disposal: Recycling or removal to a licensed landfill.

Shuff investigated the situation on June 11 and contacted Carter four days later by letter.

“The unwanted flowers and vases that are disposed of over the bank are considered open dumping of a solid waste. Highland Memorial Gardens is not a licensed or permitted solid waste landfill,” Shuff wrote.

Attorney Randall L. Lambert, representing Carter, responded on June 22.

“Even though the only thing he knows of that has been placed on the bank recently were plastic gloves and plastic vases, Mr. Carter is willing to comply with the instructions concerning the disposal of anything from the cemetery,” Lambert’s letter said.

It also stated that Carter was in the process of “obtaining a permanent dumpster at the cemetery.

“All flowers, vases and anything other than grass clippings and/or tree limbs will be disposed of through the dumpster.”

In 2005 a similar complaint was issued against Carter after an inspection from Shuff on April 19.

In that Shuff stated that he “observed two separate dumps over the bank, flowers, pots, roofing shingles.”

A follow-up inspection was made in August where Shuff found large piles of artificial flowers and pots.

Carter, through Lambert, questioned their being environmentally harmful and asked why they couldn’t be buried on his property.

Shuff responded that such material was defined as solid waste.

“Essentially Mr. Shuff was aware of (the situation) and discussed it with Mr. Carter. Mr Carter did respond appropriately and stopped with the open dumping in 2005,” Erin Strouse, Ohio EPA spokesperson, said. “Apparently this has started back up again.”

Lambert said he had no comment to make on the indictment except to say “I think this is a very extreme measure.”

Carter did not return a call made to his office.