Archived Story

Cemetery damage distresses council

Published 9:38am Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Damage done to Riverside left Second Ward City Councilman Bob Schuur, city Cemetery Board chairman, “heartbroken.”

“Some stones were broken so badly they cannot be replaced,” Schuur said at Monday night’s Dowagiac City Council meeting. “Some of the big ones, even though they can be set back up, top pieces are off. The saddest part is that there aren’t families to help with the expense of putting them back. I’d like our thanks to be transmitted to the three men. I’ve been up there every day, watching, and some of those pieces have been put back together like they never were touched. The weather’s been wet, cold and today it snowed. I wish those individuals could be nailed to a cross in the cemetery and a Christian should not think like that. Our police department should to be commended for their quick action.”

“I agree 100 percent,” Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin said.

He and Councilman James Dodd inspected the damage Thursday.

“I was through there again on Sunday night and a lot of it has been repaired because they’re doing an excellent job.”

“I echo Bob,” Councilman Dr. Charles Burling said. “It’s heart-wrenching. Older stones have been damaged irreversibly. For those families who are gone, I wonder if we could earmark (perpetual care) funds, or I would be willing to personally contribute some funds to try to put those back together. In the spring and fall, the older section is one of the most beautiful areas in this community. I hope proper steps are taken with the legal system to make sure those persons do not do that again.”

Spring blooming helped inspire the name Dogwood Fine Arts Festival.

“I concur with Chuck,” Councilman Randy Gross said. “If there was a fund established to repair sites because there’s no one to help because families are gone.”

Vandals on the evening of Sunday, Dec. 2, pushed over 61 headstones in the older section.

Some broken date as far back as the 1800s.

“It is estimated that nearly $20,000 worth of damage occurred,” City Manager Kevin Anderson said. “Staff is working diligently to reposition and make repairs. However, some headstones cannot be fully repaired.”

Anderson said he would check on perpetual care fund restrictions.

“To a person, the city staff has really been deeply touched by this,” Anderson said.

Police arrested Enos Dominique-Wolfang Butrick III, 19, of Dowagiac, and Clayton Isaac Warren, 23, of Marcellus.

Butrick is scheduled to appear in court for preliminary examination Thursday afternoon.


Parade plaudits


Council members also complimented Friday night’s 31st annual Christmas parade.

Burling “hustled” back to town from a dental association meeting in Okemos and couldn’t find a parking place closer than the hospital.

“I stood there like a little kid with a big grin on my face,” Burling said. “Wonderful to see that many people in Dowagiac. They did a wonderful job with the lighting. I was incredibly proud of this community stepping forward to put us on the map. It was like ‘Field of Dreams’ in reverse when it was over. It would be interesting to see an aerial view.”

“To see that many people crowded into downtown Dowagiac is inspiring,” Mayor Don Lyons agreed.




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