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Flooding Continues at St. Mary’s Cemetery Despite Lawsuit to Address the Issues

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While Cortland County was spared major damage from the most recent round of storms, the heavy run-off at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Cortland is continuing to damage grave sites despite a court order to fix the problem.

In July 2013 flooding at the cemetery on Route 281 forced cemetery workers to disinter four bodies and move them. An investigation revealed that a neighboring landowner had installed a large pond and diverted 120 acres worth of storm water into the cemetery and onto route 281.

The State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the property owner Jim Stevens III, last December he agreed to submit engineering plans to fix the problem and restore the drainage.

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Gravel and debris covers graves at St. Mary’s Cemetery Monday

Since then nothing appears to have changed and on Monday several feet of gravel and washout from the storm covered graves that had already been cleaned up.

Henry Harrington of Cortland has family buried at the cemetery he expressed frustration with the on-going problem. Harrington compared the problem to someone throwing their garbage on a neighbor’s property.

The lawsuit against Stevens called for penalties of up to $37 thousand dollars each day the problem remained unaddressed.

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A tombstone lays on the ground after flooding toppled the grave marker

St. Mary’s Cemetery Superintendent Wayne Moore was reluctant to comment on the issue.

Moore says he is just as frustrated as plot owners and family members he said under the terms of the settlement Stevens is supposed to fix the problem by the end of the month.

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