State closes Dent's Undertaking

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The doors to the historic Dent's Undertaking Establishment were locked this week by the state's Department of Revenue.

State tax collectors swept in Monday to close the city's oldest black-owned funeral home.

The business can reopen, however, if the owners pay the $142,334 it owes the state for sales taxes, said Charles Willey, the spokesman for the Department of Revenue.

The funeral home was founded by John and Julia Dent in 1888, family members have told The Augusta Chronicle in past reports. The business has remained in the Dent family since.

Dent's has a history of tax difficulties going back to the mid-1990s, Mr. Willey said.

According to state and county records, liens have repeatedly been placed on the funeral home to collect federal, state and local taxes.

If the current balance is not paid, the Department of Revenue could take possession of all personal property inside the D'Antignac Street funeral home, Mr. Willey said. No date for such action has been set.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. According to property records, it is valued at $284,636 and is in the name of Frank Griffin, the funeral director.

The sales tax is considered a trust tax that businesses collect and send to the state, Mr. Willey said. The state keeps 4 percent and sends the rest back to the county, he said.

A person answering the phone at Dent's who didn't want to be identified said Tuesday that the owners are working to raise the money to pay off the tax debt. They hope to accomplish that today.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

BUSINESS STAYED IN THE FAMILY


- Family members told The Chronicle in past reports that Dent's Undertaking Establishment was founded by John and Julia Dent in 1888. Mr. Dent learned embalming at Platt's Funeral Home because at that time blacks weren't allowed to attend embalming school programs for whites.


- Dent's moved from Broad Street to D'Antignac Street in 1900.


- Mr. Dent died in 1911, and his wife, Julia, took over the funeral home. Mrs. Dent died in 1945. The Dents' son-in-law, Thomas H. Ketch Sr., who married their only daughter, took over the funeral home. Mr. Ketch led the company until his death in 1985. His daughters, Thomasina Ketch and Juliette Burton, took over the family business.


- In 1990, the funeral home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Source: Augusta Chronicle archives

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ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 11:12 am
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Stumpjumper, this is not a

Stumpjumper, this is not a liberal, republican, democrat, right, wing, left wing, independent issue. Stop showing you utter ignorance. This is about a man no matter what his race, creed, religion or political orgin swindling the elderly out of their inheritance. It's sad that people such as yourself can't see beyond your right wingness to see people as people. I bet you sit and listen to Sean Hannity all day. The same hate that he spews all over the country is the hate that you want to try to place in this situation but folk such as myself can see beyond the spin zone and shut you down. You want to make it anything except what it is, so, you can say the black folk once again are looking for a hand out. Sorry, to disappoint you, this is about a family inheritance stolen from under their feet and a community in complete disappointment. Are they allowed that? Nobody's asking you for anything.

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 11:21 am
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Amen !!! Sister you tell it.

Amen !!! Sister you tell it.

bone
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bone 07/24/08 - 11:29 am
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right wingers spew hate, libs

right wingers spew hate, libs drip love - and dent's didn't pay their taxes, so whatever race, religion, or ethnicity its owners / family members belong to, the business has operated illegally and is being shut down. wonder what the building will be used for now; surely some public cause needs a home...

crazyoldman
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crazyoldman 07/24/08 - 11:30 am
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What did they do with the

What did they do with the dead people?

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 11:38 am
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Footz, LOL! I just can't

Footz, LOL! I just can't believe anyone finding anything political out of this very sad situation. Although I do not live in the area, I can only sympathize with the community and especially the employee who's so dedicated as to be answering the phone. This is the person the community should be trying to help prepare to be at the bidding whenever it takes place. I'm sure Augusta has some private business owners that Dent's have been of great service to. I'm sure they have churches that Dent's have been of great service to. I'm even willing to put in a couple of thousand and I've never received service from them. Prepare this employee to bid on this place. Prepare them to take over ownership and to secure their investment they can do a contract with the should be new owner for reimbursement in a timely but appropriate manner. This is a time for the family of this dedicated employee, friends other community leaders to step up and say "Dent's Undertaking Establishment" is bigger than Frank Griffin and the lies and deceit which got us here. Let us save what is ours. It's ok to grieve but to grieve too long in some situations such as this hinders the possiblities of progression.

crazyoldman
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crazyoldman 07/24/08 - 11:49 am
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Yeah but, what did the do

Yeah but, what did the do with the dead people?

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 11:50 am
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I agree LadyM and I am more

I agree LadyM and I am more than willing to put up some money as well. Is it wise to maybe call that number just to find out who the employee is? Just to let he or she know I will be willing to help and maybe others will do the same. We have to take care of our people. What's your professional opinion?

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 12:02 pm
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Crazyoldman, I'm sure they

Crazyoldman, I'm sure they made arrangements with other funeral homes to take on the remaing of those people. Other funerals homes will render sa service in which Dent's cannot receive payment for. I think people need to stop using the terms such as they lies, cheated and deceived or they falsified tax returns. One man and one man alone is accountable for this mess. We shouldn't even be judging him, but why be so harsh on two elderly ladies who have done a lot of good in the community? It's so easy to keep kicking someone when they are already down and it takes no strength to do this. it's takes great strength and character to build someone up when they are most torn down. I know how the communities rely on funeral homes, can I use your chairs, do you have some fans, do you have a tent I can use, so they are of more service than just burying the dead and collecting insurance. So, it's time for the communtiy to figure out how they are going to save what belongs to them. Before some idiotic person responds by saying why should we help save them, we have to pay for our services there, they don't give us anything free. I will say this message is not intended for you, so don't respond.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 12:13 pm
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Footz, I think it's ok to ask

Footz, I think it's ok to ask that employee his or her name. It's up to them to give you their name. However, I wouldn't be asking them any information about the events of the week. Find out if they are interested in becoming owner. Find out about this individual. I have already done a little homework on this person and I think they are comitted not only to the Augusta community, but to Ms. Ketch and everyone else in that area. I think someone should suggest them holding a meeting and inviting those people that are willing to support them. This is going to take loyalty and comittment. This employee has already been betrayed by Mr. Frank Griffin and is and should be cautious about who they are dealing with. It only took $20 donations for Obama to get where he is today. So, with loyal comittment to this employee Dent's can continue to be of great service to Augusta. I urge everyone to get behind this person. It's important

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 12:31 pm
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Will do !!! Thanks for the

Will do !!! Thanks for the information.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 12:33 pm
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I'm going to say this and

I'm going to say this and leave for a while. They owe $142,334 in taxes. Of course we do not want to pay that amount of money because it still leaves the business in the hands of Frank Griffin, but if 1000 people paid $142.34, this will allow this employee to be more than ready on the day of bidding. As a matter of fact it may not have to even get to that point, if Mr. Griffin can't humble himself to sign over all rights to the funeral home to this EMPLOYEE and not Ms. Ketch or anyone else who can easily be taken advantage of or is going to be in it solely for the money and not because they love what they are doing and they consider it a service to their communtiy, then just keep digging and prepare the jail cell that could be waiting for hMr. Griffin. He can't in now way be allowed to even think he can call the shots about what will or will not happen. He's done! He's finished! He's needs to sit back and allow God to manifest in him so that he can receive the forgiveness he so rightly deserves. So, it's just about people pulling together in a time of crisis.

footz
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footz 07/24/08 - 12:55 pm
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Amen LadyM !!! its was good

Amen LadyM !!! its was good talking with you. Now let's see what I can do to get this off the ground.

justconcerned
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justconcerned 07/24/08 - 02:38 pm
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I was reading through all of

I was reading through all of the comments and I must say to LadyN, you have really opened my eyes to what it means to be both angry, upset but still caring and compassionate. I am someone willing to do what I can do and I do not live in the area. It's amazing what a community can do when there's someone in trouble. How do I contact this employee? Do you know if this person is even willing to do what you've suggested? Does he have a strong support system? $142.33 is such a small price to pay for such a honorable cause and I can definitely be counted in and will be challenging my golf buddies to do the same.

jewel
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jewel 07/24/08 - 02:45 pm
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Remember some months ago a

Remember some months ago a list was printed in the newspaper of all the companies that owed back taxes. Many were on going businesses and I never remember all this feed back then. Many people don't have life insurance and leave loved ones who are trying to make it from day to day. Everybody is going after everyone now that the economy is at rock bottom. I fault Ga.dept of Revenue for letting it go so long.
I have a business and I pay my taxes every quarter and it's a hefty penalty if it's late. I imagine those are penalties included and they can add up.

If all of you on here are doing well and never had down and hard times in your life just keep on living it's bound to happen.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 02:58 pm
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Just Concerned, if you will

Just Concerned, if you will scroll to the top you will find a contact number for the employee that was said to be answering the phone. As footz brought out this person is no doubt doing this without pay and because they care about the people in the community as well as Ms. Ketch and the business. You will never know what your $142.33 will do. Sometimes we spend a lot of time looking at the big picture of things when that big picture started with a very small beginning. I have already challenged my friends and when more information is concrete those challenges will be met. People must realize that although funeral homes make money, they also give a great deal of service. There are times that they have to bury people and do not get paid because the family doesn't have money. So, Frank Griffin should not be a big enough issue for people to say they will not help bail them out. I am sharing this story with everyone in my city as this was big news believe it or not in many places. Not just Augusta. It's the talk of the Morticians Society right now. Don't allow Augusta to loose such a historical treasure as this.

goldie53
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goldie53 07/24/08 - 03:47 pm
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Thanks ladyN for getting

Thanks ladyN for getting these post back on the right track. I hope the community will rally behind Dent's. First, let's make sure the home gets out of Frank Griffin's name.
Again, as mention $142.33 is a small sum of money to save this historic business. I am ready to write a check to help out.

crazyoldman
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crazyoldman 07/24/08 - 04:38 pm
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Yeah, but, if all ya'll give

Yeah, but, if all ya'll give me the $142.34 maybe I can buy it.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 05:25 pm
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That's really cute

That's really cute crazyoldman. I think calling the number listed in previous comments will definitely direct you to the right person. Not sure of the number but if anyone knows it please post it. Today is a new day for Dent's Undertaking Establishment. This is how each of you have to look at it. Yesterday is gone , the doors to Frank Griffin's corrupt dynasty are closed leading the pathway to open doors of great opportunity and success. The business cannot be taken out of Frank Griffin's name until the day of the sale and the person buying it wins the bid. We just want to prepare this employee for that day. I am an outsider, not living in the city but have done enough homework to know that this is a place worth saving. I am going continue to put the message out to people and I pray goldie53 that you will as well. Get behind this employee and encourage him. His heart seems to definitely be where it should be. In the business of serving his or her community. Footz seemed to be very willing to help. Form a team do whatever you have to do to make this work. Things have to fall apart sometimes in order for them to come together. It's ok. Remember this news have reached lots of cities

just the facts 57
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just the facts 57 07/24/08 - 09:30 pm
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All this back and forth stuff

All this back and forth stuff is silly. Do any of you even know Frank or the Dent sisters? I do. And I plan to pray for them. So let's stop bashing one another and pray for each other. This world will be a better place if we would take that approach on life.

firefigheterhammer
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firefigheterhammer 07/24/08 - 09:40 pm
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g53, I will get behind them,

g53, I will get behind them, just as soon as they pay that 142,000K. Hamer loves you alls, you know!

ladyN
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ladyN 07/24/08 - 11:19 pm
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Just the facts 57, if you

Just the facts 57, if you read the comments most of the people are compassionate of the sisters. Although there's a lot of compassion in my heart for Mr. Griffin he is still accountable for the funeral home being in this position. You don't have to know him, to know that public records don't lie. He is owner, he was accountable for all of the broken agreements to pay the taxes and like it or not he is accountable for the closure. You can pray for him and still hold him accountable. He didn't pay the taxes and he swindled those ladies out of their inheritance. Now it's time for healing and a new look to brighter days without him at Dent's. It's not bashing him it's being realistic. For you firefighterhammer-you were clearly reminded that the plea to get behind the business was a plea for those that wanted to. They can't miss something from you that they never had.

HYPOCRITES 08
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HYPOCRITES 08 07/25/08 - 07:50 am
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What an idiot.@9:40pm

What an idiot.@9:40pm

dale88fan
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dale88fan 07/27/08 - 09:37 am
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Hey Peoples==Dont you just

Hey Peoples==Dont you just hate it when somebody wants to AX you a question? LOL

ladyN
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ladyN 07/27/08 - 11:37 am
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Yes, I certainly wouldn't

Yes, I certainly wouldn't want anyone AXING me a question. LOL!

footz
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footz 07/28/08 - 01:09 pm
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Hello LadyN I just wanted you

Hello LadyN I just wanted you to know I spoke to the young man thats answering the phone for Dent's and He is a hard working young that has been working for Dent's for almost 20 years. he sound like a young man with his head on straight and he really hate to see this business close down especially in this way.

ladyN
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ladyN 07/28/08 - 03:56 pm
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Hello Footz..I believe this

Hello Footz..I believe this guy is dedicated to the service of his community. Just remember it only takes 1000 people to give $142.33 to prepare him for the day of sale. I am praying that the community of Augusta does not put money back into trying to pay the back taxes. This will not work. If they do this Frank Griffin will still be in charge. This is now so much larger than a tax issue. THIS IS A SERIOUS LEGAL(CRIMINAL) ISSUE. I am suggesting that if you are going to help this employee that you only talk with him He should set up a fund with a local financial institution in which people can deposit funds. Funds that are specifically for this cause. Trying to do business with Frank Griffin should be so far from anyone's thoughts. In my city I have several individuals waiting to meet the challenge that i set before them. A few golfers have promised as well. This will happen with your help. People in so many cities outside GA are talking about this. I'm sure once the individual establishes an institution for deposits the community will be notified. My advice is this : DO NOT GIVE OR WRITE ANY FUNDS OUT TO FRANK GRIFFIN OR THOMASINA KETCH FOR BACK TAXES

caring
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caring 08/02/08 - 02:35 pm
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I'm not understanding why I

I'm not understanding why I am not getting the same person on the phone when I call the number given to donate money. The employee I spoke with a few days ago is no longer answering the phone. I was told by another viewer that the owner, who is fully responsible for the messy situation is now answering the phones. I am asking the public to please do not mistake the person answering the phones now for the employee who poured out so much love when the funeral home was shut down. Please do not agree to give this person any money. If LadyN or anyone has anymore information on the account that was set up at Suntrust please let me know. I have people waiting to make deposits but everytime they call they are getting someone other than the employee we all spoke to when the funeral home was shut down. If anyone knows anything else please let me know. thanks

footz
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footz 08/03/08 - 06:27 pm
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The caring employee name is

The caring employee name is Eddie Bynes, I spoke with him as well and he is very interested in bidding on Dent's Funeral Home.
I spoke with him yesterday and he gave me the account number. The account number is set at Suntrust Bank and the account number is 1000076459980. Ladies and Gentlemen please understand that this account has nothing to do with Frank Griffin or Thomasina Ketch. This account has only one name on it and that's Eddie Bynes and he will be biddibg on Dent's Funeral at the appointed time. He can be reached at 706-294-9692 and you can also mail donations to 3124 Exeter Rd. Augusta, Ga. 30909. Mr. Bynes ask of all of you to please hold on to any receipts from your deposits into this account and if a donation is mailed he will be more than glad to mail a receipt to you. Mr. Bynes stated, "He would like to try and keep record of all donations. Mr. Bynes stated, "He will be mailing letters to all churches and local businesses in the community". When speaking with Mr. Bynes I now know he is a very sincere young man with his family backing him all the way. So come on you guys lets join in and help this young man continue a legacy in the right and respected way.

footz
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footz 08/03/08 - 07:35 pm
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Remember all he is asking is

Remember all he is asking is to get 1000 people to give $143.00 or whatever the Lord put in on your heart to give.

joyfulone
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joyfulone 08/04/08 - 02:56 am
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Thank you footz, I've been

Thank you footz, I've been waiting for someone to give me information that I can use and I'm not worried about a receipt. The bible says give and it will shall be given unto you pressed down shaken together running over and I beleive that's how it will be given back to me. I'm just going to sow a seed toward good fruit and I know once that good fruit plants my seed in his good ground the harvest will be plenty and from reading these messages, it appears there are many others that stand in agreement. Let's bless this young man. God Bless you all whether you sow a seed or not.

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