Owego Cemetery Rushes to Repair Vandalism

By Justin Moss

July 22, 2010 Updated May 26, 2006 at 11:01 PM EDT

Michael Howe of Owego Public Works couldn't believe the damage.

"It upsets me. I take a lot of pride in this stuff, and it upsets me to see something like this," said Howe.

Two weeks ago, headstones were knocked over and broken in the Evergreen Cemetery that Howe helps maintain.

Much of the damage happened in the area where Civil War soldiers are buried, and now Owego is racing to get everything repaired before Memorial Day ceremonies.

"With everything else we have to do for Memorial Day, we just don't have time to go up there -- as important as it is -- we just don't have time to do it," said Public Works Superintendent Jeff Soules.

Soules has been talking with a person who has volunteered to fix the Civil War stones for free. He hopes it can be finished by Monday.

But private gravesites were also vandalized, and the village hopes families will volunteer to pay for the cost of fixing them. The gravesites are considered private property, meaning the village's insurance won't cover it. Now they are struggling to find a way to pay for all of the damage.

Soules estimates it will cost about $9,000 to fix all of the private headstones. The village will hire a company to repair them.

"Why anyone would topple a headstone is beyond me. I don't know. It's a real pain," said Howe.

"It's not nice to their family or anyone else's family. If this was your stone, your family's stone, you wouldn't like it either," said Soules.

The village hopes people get that message, so there won't be vandalism like this again.

A gazebo at the cemetery was also vandalized but has already been repaired.

The village police department is continuing its investigation into the headstone vandalism.

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