Grand Jury report reveals shortcomings of KRV Cemetery District

The public has always enjoyed Veterans Day and Memorial Day ceremonies at the Kern Valley Cemetery District, which former Dist. Manager Randy Kyt (left) organized

Photo and story by Catherine Stachowiak

Kern County Grand Jury recently gave a report on the Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District for 2023-2024.  In the report they complimented the well-kept grounds and visual appeal of the peaceful setting.

However the findings of the report included problems with the internal governance of the district.  The grand jury report states that audits were seriously delinquent. The fifth seat on the board of trustees continued to be vacant since last October. 

The report said the board only had bi-monthly meetings, and nepotism was a concern.  

The board of trustees terminated the district’s manager Randy Kyt, at the end of May, along with his wife, Laura Kyt.  She told the Kern Valley Sun, in a text on Saturday June 8,  “I know that Nepotism is something that has come up.  So I want you to know that Randy was not my Supervisor.  Back in 2018 (I think it was then – it was in the minutes) there was action taken by the Board of Trustees that they would become my supervisor, so I could work more hours”

According to the Grand Jury report staffing levels were insufficient to bring administrative duties current. 

Water issues continue to be a challenge, for the District, according to the Grand Jury report.  Solutions the board explored, have not been solidified yet. The U.S. Forest Service, in a letter dated February 6, 2024, stated that the District is no longer allowed to access water from the mine due to unsafe levels of contaminants.  Therefore the district was considering other options going forward because the well and storage tanks don’t meet the irrigation requirements for a new section of grass at the cemetery.

The Grand Jury Report said that Cal Water was available at the property line. If connected, the District would be charged at an Interruptible Public Authority Irrigation Service Rate costing $1.3941 per 100 cubic feet. The Grand Jury report said that according to Cal Water, due to existing infrastructure, there would be no hook-up charge to the district 

The grounds were generally well kept yet the district depended on no-cost labor, from several agencies, and the district, according to the report would have benefited having a dedicated groundskeeper. 

Annual revenue of the district, shown to be in excess within the budget, for a couple of fiscal years would allow for the possibility of funding for more staff. 

According to the Grand Jury report the Grand Jury began the inquiry after having complaints about the Kern River Valley Public Cemetery District. 

 The Grand Jury carried out twelve interviews with district personnel, board members, and county government employees, with whom ever complained, and with some outside consultants. The Grand Jury reviewed previous Grand Jury Reports, financial documents, meeting agendas, and the district’s website. 

The district apparently could not provide to the Grand Jury an accurate total number of internments/inurnments. 

The district is supposed to be governed by a board of five trustees that the County Board of Supervisors appointed, for four-year terms.  The district employed one general manager, two part time office staff members, and an on call gravedigger and grounds keeper. 

Helpers from community organizations have assisted occasionally as a courtesy to the district.   

Problems the Grand Jury noted were, the district not filling its empty board of trustees seat, the board holding less than usual meetings in 2023, the board not making public agendas or minutes or making them available for approval, the board not staying current on required training on sexual harassment or ethics, and financial audits that the California code requires, becoming delinquent since 2017. 


A part-time office staff and CPA have been working towards converting an old accounting system into a more comprehensive accounting software system to get 2017, 2018, 2019 audits brought current by May 2024.  For the years 2020 through 2022 the Grand Jury reported they should be completed by December 2024. 

The district’s payroll was without checks and balances at the time the Grand Jury started their investigation.

 The boardroom at the time of the investigation consisted of furnishings for the board members to sit and included little seating for the public. 

Districts are required to maintain a website with specified content. The Grand Jury report said that the District’s website had not included Board Trustee contact information, as mandated.  John Blythe, former district board trustee, and current district part time employee told the Kern Valley Sun that he was planning to update the information shortly.  Blythe believed this was the task of management, which had not been completed.    

The Historic Cemetery is experiencing ground instability and suffered slope failure damage during the winter storms last year.  To qualify for FEMA and California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) funding for a retaining barrier bordering the Kern River, a professional engineering proposal would be required.  

The Grand Jury findings stated that the district needed a five-member board. The board meetings were not sufficient to continue efficiently and cause meeting agendas to be far too long.  Not providing minutes from meetings caused a lack of transparency for the public.

Failure of some trustees receiving current required training caused the district to be non-compliant.

The Board was negligent with securing and overseeing personnel for the purpose of maintaining financial audits, which caused delinquency with mandated County and State filings. 

Policies generated from its CSDA template are not specific enough to the district, which could cause misinterpretation to the board of trustees

Operation and Maintenance Expense Distribution Budget, could have been allocated for additional staffing. 

The report also said that a retaining barrier project would be critical to the preservation of the Historic Cemetery.