- Associated Press - Sunday, July 30, 2017

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) - Magnolia Cemetery and Meridian Memorial Park in Meridian are under new ownership.

The announcement comes little more than a year after Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann sued to place both cemeteries under receivership after then-owner William E. Arlinghaus failed to pay into a required trust a percentage of customer payments for ground burial and mausoleum sales.

The new owner is Jay Lowry Crane, owner of Perpetuation, LLC.

“Understandably, this has been a stressful situation for the many people who have loved ones buried in Magnolia Cemetery and Meridian Memorial Park,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said in a press release. “The State is hopeful these sacred places are now in hands which will properly honor the memories of the Mississippians who lay to rest there.”

Sidney Covington, who has family in both cemeteries, tells The Meridian Star the sale announced last week gives hope to the community.

“That’s Meridian’s family tree out there,” Covington said, adding that many of her classmates, their children and even the family of former Tennessee governor Winfield Dunn was buried there. “There’s a wealth of well-known people buried there.”

Covington said she’d known Crane “for years and years” and the family had roots in town.

“That does add an element, knowing that he’s invested in that property,” Covington said. “Because of Jay, I just know that it’ll be taken care of.”

Hosemann said the new ownership will provide $36,910 for memorial markers to 28 consumers that were never provided. An additional $15,000 will be set aside for future unknown claims of undelivered goods and services that could exist. In addition, $33,349.83, which Arlinghaus failed to place in a perpetual care trust, will be given to the proper accounts.

Six judgments, secured creditors and tax liens were paid and garnishment proceedings paid an additional three judgments before the sale was completed.

The state dismissed a lawsuit against Arlinghaus, and Arlinghaus is banned from managing or owning interest in a cemetery or funeral service business in Mississippi.

The state said it would work with Crane and Perpetuation, LLC to ensure a smooth transition.

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Information from: The Meridian Star, https://www.meridianstar.com

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