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After Kern County Grand Jury report the Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District faces scrutiny

Following the report, the cemetery district fired three long-time employees, leaving them without the proper staffing to perform funerals
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 11, 2024

KERNVILLE, Calif. (KERO) — A board meeting for the Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District attracted attention on Tuesday as community members voiced support for a former staff member. Questions still remain about the special district’s future.

  • After a Grand Jury report, the Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District fired three staff members, drawing ire from some residents and leaving the cemetery without the proper staffing to perform funerals.
  • The Grand Jury report was released on May 23rd. The three staff members were fired following a special meeting of the board that took place on May 28th.
  • The annual operating budget of the cemetery district is $216,000.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

“36 years from Randy Kyt, 8 years from his wife. You can’t take that kind of knowledge and throw it away,” said Jerry Moffat, a resident of the Kern River Valley for sixty years who has applied for the currently vacant board position for the Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District.

Neighborhood Reporter Corey O'Leary interviewing Jerry Moffat, a resident of the Kern River Valley who is frustrated with the recent changes at the cemetery.
Neighborhood Reporter Corey O'Leary interviewing Jerry Moffat, a resident of the Kern River Valley who is frustrated with the recent changes at the cemetery.

Moffat, along with five other residents, spoke up at the board meeting in support for Randy Kyt, the former general manager of the cemetery who was fired late in May. His wife, the district secretary, and son, an on-call seasonal worker, were also laid off.

“That's where we are at right now, is we have no-one to do anything there.”

The Kern River Cemetery is a special district, governed by board members who are responsible for operating both the new and old cemetery in Kernville.

Board members told me they cannot comment on the personnel matters but many residents are speculating the firing had to do with the Kern County Grand Jury report that was released on May 23rd about the cemetery district – which brought up nepotism as a concern.

“They didn’t report to one another, they reported to the board,” Moffat said.

Moffat believes nepotism doesn’t apply when it came to Randy Kyt and his wife because the family members were not each others supervisors.

“Myself and my brother were Bakersfield city firemen. I never reported to him, I reported to those that were over me,” Moffat said.

The abrupt firings have left the cemetery with no manager or on-call worker that can dig graves.

“They have no plan in motion,” said Robert Guidry, who has operated Lake Isabella Valley Mortuary with his wife for decades now.

He says on Monday a client of theirs was ready to be buried, but the cemetery was unable to perform the burial.

“Got a headstone with her name on it somewhere out here,” Guidry said.

Because of this, family members that flew in from Arizona had to head back home without a funeral being held.

‘Where is the body now?” I asked.

“In my mortuary,” Guidry responded.

The board has brought on Tehachapi Cemetery District Manager Danny Brown to consult and help hire staff for the current open positions.

Board members at the meeting said there was no current timeline for when the vacant positions would be filled.

The grand jury report came with several recommendations, such as increasing the transparency of board activities, potential solutions to the ongoing water problems at the cemetery, and pointed out the substantial work needed to be done by the district to catch up on their financial audits.

“We have family members there, my wife has her grandparents there, it’s another part of our community that we need to take care of,” said Moffat.

In the name of increased transparency, the board has voted to make board meetings monthly – they will take place the second Tuesday of every month at one pm.

READ GRAND JURY REPORT ON KRV PUBLIC CEMETERY DISTRICT

Report - Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District


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