Local church cemetery lays monuments flat for mining
A local cemetery in Galatia, Illinois, has laid all the monuments in its cemetery flat or propped on their sides after reaching a deal with the American Coal Company to mine underneath the cemetery. In exchange, the church will receive a brand new fellowship hall to replace the one that will be moved during the mining.
Tiffany Feazel visits her daughter’s grave at the Lebanon Cumberland Presbyterian Church at least twice a week. This week, when she arrived at the cemetery, she was shocked to find her daughter’s headstone lying on the ground.
"I thought it had been vandalized," said Feazel.
Feazel’s daughter, Gabriella, died from organ failure almost three years ago.
While the company was removing her headstone, workers shattered the back of it.
"I feel like I’m back at square one from when I first had to bury her," said Feazel.
Feazel is worried that the ground could cave in because of the mining, ruining her daughter’s final resting place.
"I already buried her once, and I don’t think I can do it again," said Feazel.
Feazel says what has happened at the cemetery has put an emotional strain on her and her family.
"I can’t sleep at night. Our two other grown children, they ask us so many questions. They don’t understand," said Feazel.
The American Coal Company released a statement to us that says:
The American Coal Company confirms that it reached an agreement with the church and cemetery to allow this mining. We will do everything to mitigate any damage caused by subsidence. Indeed, we will work closely with the church to ensure that this cemetery is completely repaired.
Feazel has recently started a petition and has been in touch with local representatives.
A letter from the church says: "The benefit from it will help maintain the cemetery for years to come."
We reached out to the church to speak with someone in person. They referred us to the American Coal Company, which released a statement above, but would not answer any of our questions.