School officials receive death threats over cemetery move in Clay County


CLAY COUNTY, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky State Police are investigating death threats made against the Clay County Schools superintendent and board of education chair over moving graves from a cemetery on property owned by the school district, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The report says the death threats against Superintendent William Sexton and Board of Education Chairman Mark Hoskins came via email messages on July 15 and 16.

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The report says the email messages mentioned guns and threats to kill people.

This comes after the school board announced it intended to move graves from the 128-year old Hoskins Cemetery.

The cemetery sits on the top of a steep hill that overlooks Manchester Elementary School and sports facilities.

The school board says the graves need to be moved because the location poses a safety threat since the cemetery overlooks a school and athletic facilities.  Sharon Allen, an attorney for the board of education, called the location a potential “sniper’s nest,” according to the report.

There are an estimated 80 graves in the cemetery, which include veterans dating back to the Civil War, and descendants of Native Americans, according to the report.

Family members of some of the people buried in the cemetery have protested the plan to move the graves.  There was a protest in Manchester on July 8, 2021 where people chanted, “Educate, don’t desecrate,” according to the report.

Manchester attorney Stella B. House told the newspaper cemetery supporters will sue to try to block the removal of the graves if necessary.

The Clay County Board of Education received the necessary permission from the Clay County Fiscal Court to seek state permits to move the graves, according to the report.

The school board has applied to the state for permits to move the graves, which would have to be overseen by a funeral director, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.


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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at You can also follow Tom on Facebook and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.