STATE COURT ACTION FILED IN MANCHESTER, KENTUCKY AGAINST CLAY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION AND CLAY COUNTY FISCAL COURT INCLUDING JUDGE EXECUTIVE

The historical Hoskins Cemetery on Island Creek Hill off U.S. 421 in Clay County, Kentucky is over 125 years-old

HOSKINS CEMETERY 700

MANCHESTER, KY (April 6, 2022) - On behalf of 63 friends of the Hoskins Cemetery from 10 different states, Stella B. House, a local attorney, on Friday, March 25, 2022 filed a Complaint in the Clay Circuit Court against the CLAY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (“CCBOE”), its members, and the CLAY COUNTY FISCAL COURT, including JOHNNY JOHNSON (individually and in his official Capacity as Clay County Judge Executive).

Stella B. House 200This is a matter concerning the preservation of a historic site. The Cemetery contains approximately 3/10th acre of hallowed ground with approximately seventy (70) graves dating back as far as 1893. Infants, veterans of several wars, and Native Americans in marked and unmarked graves have been buried in the Cemetery for over 125 years.

The CCBOE first published a notice of intent to relocate the Cemetery on May 12, 2021. The CCBOE then applied to the Clay County Fiscal Court (“CCFC”) for permission to remove the graves from the Cemetery on July 12, 2021.The CCFC was composed of Johnny Johnson, Clay County Judge Executive, and the following Magistrates at that time: Russell Smith, Price Hoskins, Hugh Lunsford, Chris Smith, Bill Warren, and Ray Brown. These Magistrates voted to approve the CCBE’s application unanimously. Not a single Magistrate voted against it or abstained from the vote. Despite a protest and numerous written requests to block the disinterment of approximately seventy (70) graves, one (1) memorial for a soldier killed in action, and many more unknown/unmarked graves, the relocation of the Cemetery was ultimately approved by a Resolution of the CCFC on July 14, 2021.

The Complaint alleges that violations of Kentucky case law and statutes prevent the destruction of the Cemetery by the CCBOE. There also is a specific claim regarding denial of access to the Cemetery. It alleges that the CCBOE has blocked the entrance to the Cemetery; the CCBOE has prevented the heirs and relatives of those buried there in the Cemetery from exercising the right of ingress and egress; and the heirs and relatives of the decedents buried there in the Cemetery have a right to visit the graves of their deceased ancestors.

The CCBOE knew the graveyard was located on the land containing the Cemetery when it purchased it. Land containing a human should be maintained inviolate. The Cemetery has been set apart, marked, and distinguished from the adjoining property for over 125 years. The tax-exempt property card on file in the Clay County Property Valuation Administrator’s offices specifically describes the Cemetery as “.379 acres and cemetery” on “North Highway 421”, Manchester, Kentucky 40962, and lists the last date of sale as “December 30, 1899”. When land has been appropriated for burial purposes, the friends of the Hoskins Cemetery alleges that it cannot be conveyed or devised as other property so as to interfere with the use and purposes to which it has been devoted.

HOSKINS CEM Grave flagging

Graves in the Hoskins Cemetery that have been flagged by the CLAY COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION (“CCBOE”)

BLOCKED ENTRANCE HOSKINS CEM 421 4 6 22

This photo of the closed entrance to the historical Hoskins Cemetery on Island Creek Hill off U.S. 421 in Clay County, Kentucky taken on Wednesday, April 6, 2022

WHEREFORE, the friends of the Hoskins Cemetery, by counsel, respectfully request the Clay Circuit Court to grant them the following relief:

1. Hold a hearing to hear the urgent matter of temporarily restraining and enjoining all Defendants and agents, employees, and all others acting on their behalf from tampering with, damaging, altering, and/or removing any stone, monument, grave (marked or

unmarked) from the Cemetery;

2. Enter a temporary and permanent injunction restraining and enjoining all Defendants and agents, employees, and all others acting on their behalf thereof from tampering with, damaging, altering, and/or removing any stone, monument, grave (marked or unmarked), from the Cemetery;

3. Find that the removal of the graves and monuments would violate Kentucky law.

4. Enter an Order declaring the public has a right to access to the Cemetery;

5. Enter an Order declaring that the CCBOE does not own the Cemetery land and/or cannot interfere with the use and purpose to which it has been devoted;

6. Enter an Order declaring that next of kin owns the bodies of the decedents interred in the Cemetery;

7. Enter an Order declaring the Cemetery a historic site protected under state law;

8. Enter an Order permanently restraining and enjoining all Defendants and agents, employees, and all others acting on their behalf from tampering with, damaging, altering, and/or removing any stone, monument, or grave (marked or unmarked).

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