HARRODSBURG — A city commissioner has resigned and a police investigation has begun since tires and other debris were unearthed in city-owned Spring Hill Cemetery.
The Harrodsburg City Commission will meet Thursday night to discuss, among other things, whether to accept Commissioner Marvin "Bubby" Isham's resignation.
Isham's responsibilities include oversight of the city's cemeteries. He said he resigned because he was angry that the other commissioners did not support his motion to fire cemetery sexton Jerri Carter. Isham alleges that Carter ordered the burial of the debris at the cemetery.
Carter declined to respond Wednesday to Isham's allegations.
The debris was uncovered in parts of the cemetery that do not contain graves. Most of the tires were found in a fenced, five-acre grassy section on the cemetery's southeast side, which borders a residential neighborhood.
"When they open this section up and they start digging graves and you start pulling tires up, what family is going to want to put a casket in when there isn't nothing but garbage here?" Isham said.
The issue came to light about two months ago, when a state environmental inspector showed up unannounced at the cemetery and told Isham of an anonymous complaint that said debris had been dumped and buried there.
Former cemetery employees showed Isham and the inspector where to dig.
One former cemetery employee said that "he was not taking the blame for any of it and that he followed orders from the sexton to do what he did," Isham said.
"We've dug up approximately 100 tires," Isham said. "We found the gas tank off of a vehicle, a lot of chain link fence, iron pipe. Tires are mainly what we've found, more than anything."
Former employees have told Isham that barrels of oil and demolition debris are buried elsewhere in the cemetery. Oil has been found on top of the ground at one low spot, but no barrels have been uncovered. Soda cans stamped with the date 2007 have been unearthed.
Isham said he met Wednesday with another state environmental inspector who took additional photographs of the debris. The state inspectors have asked the city to stop digging temporarily.
Meanwhile, a Harrodsburg police detective is investigating the dumping and burial of debris, Isham said. Whether criminal charges will be filed is unknown.
When Isham made a motion last week to fire Carter, the other commissioners did not second the motion and cited the need for more documentation. "I was really upset when I asked for her dismissal and they wouldn't go along with me on it," Isham said.
His resignation has not been formally accepted, but the commission will discuss whether to accept the resignation at Thursday's special meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Isham said he might not resign because many citizens and other commissioners have asked him to stay. One supporter is current cemetery employee Roy Holt.
"When people come in to see the cemetery, they want to see the beauty of it," Holt said.
"This right here," he said, nodding to the holes and piles of dirt, "is ugly."