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CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- A rejuvenated Fort Hill Cemetery Board may be able to respond to residents' complaints about the graveyard's condition, officials hope.

The complaints range from high grass in the summer to toppled tombstones.

"Several complaints have come in," Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis said. "The board hasn't been kept up to par as far as appointments. We can only find appointments up to 2005, and they are two-year appointments. Also, they haven't been meeting regularly."

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Staff Photo by Randall Higgins/Chattanooga Times Free Press The entrance marker to Fort Hill Cemetery is partly covered by overgrown weeds. Complaints have been made by some families in recent weeks about maintenance. Cleveland, Tenn., and Bradley County officials say the public board that oversees the cemetery has been neglected in recent years.

Davis said his only alternative has been to take the complaints to County Commissioner Jeff Yarber, who has served on the board.

Cleveland and Bradley County have representatives on the board overseeing the historic cemetery. Both contribute money -- $9,500 each this year -- for maintenance.

The Bradley County Courts Community Service maintains part of the cemetery, while another portion is privately owned.

Complaints about upkeep of the privately owned portion several years ago led to a court case that resulted in a court order for maintenance and a court-appointed committee to monitor it.

The Cleveland City Council has reappointed most of its previous members, replacing one with new city Councilman Charlie McKenzie.

The County Commission may make appointments to the board at its meeting Monday.

Yarber and Commissioner Brian Smith said they also have received complaints about the cemetery.

"I've received some calls about overturned headstones," Smith said. "I know some could be weather related, but I don't believe all of them are."

Yarber said the problem is not with Community Services' upkeep.

"Community Service does an excellent job. It's nothing that involves them," he said.

The oldest grave in the cemetery is believed to be an 1836 marker for a child. During the past 174 years, many markers have been added, from historic local families to a potter's field. The county's veterans cemetery also is on Fort Hill.

Contact Randall Higgins at rhiggins@timesfreepress.com or 423-314-1029.

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