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Hancock County takes over care of Turtleskin Cemetery

Turtleskin Cemetery will become a public cemetery in the next year, increasing the frequency of maintenance in the form of grass cutting and weed trimming at the cemetery, said Hancock County Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar.

The cemetery is located near the north gate of John C. Stennis Space Center in the buffer zone and is at roughly 75 percent capacity, according to previous coverage.

During a meeting held Monday, the Hancock County Board of Supervisors approved a motion to make the cemetery public in the next fiscal year, meaning the county would assume the cost to maintain it. The Board’s decision was based on minutes from a Board meeting in the 1940s that describes the cemetery as a public cemetery, said Kellar.

Currently, the grass at the cemetery is mown four times a year, but beginning next year, Hancock County staff will cut the grass every three weeks from April to October, Kellar said, which should be approximately seven times a year. Both county workers and inmates will cut the grass, Kellar said.

A five-person committee will have some oversight concerning the cemetery, Kellar said, and will help lead fundraisers to repair graves that have caved in and right or repair headstones that have been knocked over.

Money has already been raised by the community for Turtleskin Cemetery, and it will go toward maintenance other than grass cutting, such as grave repairs and tree trimming, Kellar said.

Locals met with Kellar in July to discuss options for long-term maintenance of the cemetery, according to previous coverage. Asking the Board to take over maintenance of the cemetery was the solution settled on in that meeting, although at the time Kellar only expected the Board to be willing to cut the grass twice a year. Hancock County making the cemetery public ensures the cemetery will continue to be maintained long term, Kellar said.