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|Kilpatrick family buys Twin Cities Memorial Gardens|
Kilpatrick Funeral Homes has purchased the Twin Cities Memorial Gardens Cemetery in West Monroe.
The announcement of the purchase was made this week by Laura Kilpatrick-Marchelos, president of Kilpatrick Funeral Homes.
"We have purchased Twin Cities Memorial Gardens in an effort to bring a resolution to the conflict with the state of Louisiana and Mr. Dannie Jackson, who has owned the cemetery," Kilpatrick-Marchelos said. "We believe this should give a great deal of comfort to the families that have entrusted the stewardship of their loved one's remains, as well as those who have grave lots at the cemetery. This is a very important commitment to the people of West Monroe and the surrounding communities to have this cemetery run in a professional manner for the future."
The state Attorney General's office, which represents the Louisiana Cemetery Board, placed the cemetery in receivership in January while investigating complaints lodged over the past several years about poor management and perpetual care and merchandise trusts not being properly funded.
Mulhearn Funeral Home took over temporary duties in operating Twin Cities Memorial Gardens following the action by Attorney General Buddy Caldwell.
Caldwell's office secured a restraining order against the cemetery's former owner, Jackson, preventing him from operating the cemetery.
According to the attorney general's office, several complaints were filed against the West Monroe cemetery over the past several years.
Those complaints ranged from poor maintenance to failure to deliver merchandise bought by customers.
The cemetery also violated state law on burial depth during an on-site examination by the Louisiana Cemetery Board, the attorney general's office reported.
In late 2007, the Louisiana Cemetery Board voted against renewing Twin Cities Memorial Garden's certificate of authorization, which allows it to operate as a cemetery. The cemetery was then placed into receivership.
According to Kilpatrick-Marchelos, Jackson cooperated fully with the Kilpatrick family and has agreed to ensure that all trust funds are fully funded. He has also provided a reserve account from which Kilpatrick Funeral Homes can fund those contracts of families that have not been fulfilled by the time of the anticipated Dec. 1 closing of the sale.
"It has always been my promise to make absolutely certain the Perpetual Care trust and all money put aside for future delivery of merchandise and services are taken care of without question," said Jackson. "I have agreed to have the Kilpatrick's provide for this from money Sherry (Jackson's wife) and I are setting aside to guarantee this is done properly."
Tex Kilpartrick, patriarch of the 81-year-old funeral home, said, "A cemetery is an important feature to the community, and we are going to strive to make the lot holders proud of the property with our planned development. Our goal is to make this a respected place of memorialization for generations to come with our management and planned enhancements."
The funeral home will soon make an announcement about its redevelopment plans for the long-established cemetery.
"I'm certain that existing lot holders and people considering their cemetery needs will be satisfied with the plans we have to provide a dignified environment of which the people of northeast Louisiana can be proud," Kilpatrick-Marchelos said.
Kilpatrick Funeral Homes operates funeral homes in Monroe, West Monroe, Ruston and Farmerville. It was named the Pursuit of Excellence Award winner by the National Funeral Directors Association in 2007, an award that recognizes funeral homes that go above and beyond the standard level of service to families. In 2008 the funeral home was recognized again by the national organization for its outstanding contribution to the community.