Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rural Ky. funeral home owner says he was targeted for proposing crematory in 'black part of town'

Todd County (Wikipedia map)
A rural southwestern Kentucky county is in the midst of accusations of racial bias over the proposed site of a crematory. Todd County Funeral Home owner Shane Hessey went before the Elkton City Council on Monday accusing a councilman of using "his position to improperly 'draw a line in the sand between blacks and whites' when it came to the location of the crematory," Publisher Ryan Craig reports for the weekly Todd County Standard.

The councilman said he objected to Hessey's proposed site of a former jeans-washing facility because it was in a low-income area, Craig writes. The councilman said many local residents he had talked to—African Americans and Caucasians—said they were against using the site for the crematory.

But Hessey said he was accused of purposely targeting the area because of its large African American population, Craig reports. Hessey last week withdrew the proposal after going to a planning commission meeting mostly attended by African Americans who were against the crematory. Hessey said, "I never knew [the area near the jeans washing facility] was considered the black part of town."

Hessey went on to claim that "another business publicly said 'I am the n—— funeral home of Todd County'," Craig writes, making the epithet apparent but not explicit. "Hessey said he felt he had a good record on race relations with his business and the community, and he withdrew his plans for the crematory because of 'the people in the chairs' at last week's planning commission."

City Attorney Jeff Traughber said that even if the commission had passed the plan for the crematory, the city council would still need to approve an ordinance change allowing crematories, Craig reports. The Standard is subscription-only, but the pages with th story are posted here.

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