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Work Crews Repair Damage Caused by Boalsburg Cemetery Vandals

by on May 13, 2014 6:00 AM

One week after vandals blazed a trail of destruction through the historic Boalsburg Cemetery repair crews launched an impressive clean up blitz of their own.

Volunteers from the Boalsburg Cemetery Association and workers from Mayes Memorials, rolled up their sleeves, and erased a significant portion of the damage Monday.

Vandals knocked over dozens of headstones sometime overnight on May 3. Some of the grave markers date back to the Civil War. Fifty-two were vandalized. A few of them were snapped in half -- broken beyond repair.

Dick Stever, the owner of Mayes Memorials in Lemont is overseeing the restoration work. "I'd like to think it wasn't planned," he says of the vandalism spree. "It doesn't really matter if it was or not ... just that it happened ... It's senseless."

Pete High, president of the Boalsburg Cemetery Association, says he was pretty much disgusted when he heard about the vandalism but he's gotten over the shock. "You take a couple days and tempers start to settle a little bit. And you realize it's time to get to work and make it like it was."

At first, damage estimates topped $100,000 but it now appears the damage is not as bad as was first thought. But some of the stones simply can't be fixed. "A lot of these things will never be the same," says Stever. "There's a job over there that's totally destroyed."

The workers used a small crane, levers and plenty of muscle to wrestle the headstones into position.

By Monday night, almost all of the headstones were back in place. "The best part is they're not going to be on the ground," says Stever. "I think everybody is starting to feel a little better since we've been working."

High is grateful for Stever's expertise. "Oh my, without his help, where would we be? Some of these pieces weigh well over a ton and there's no way that we have the equipment to move it and put them back the way they belong."

Boalsburg Cemetery is widely believed to be the birthplace of Memorial Day. In 1864, three women placed flowers at the graves of Dr. Reuben Hunter and Amos Myers, two soliders who died during the Civil War. Those headstones are undamaged.

The destruction happened just weeks before Boalsburg celebrates the 150th anniversary of Memorial Day.

The cemetery association has set up a Facebook page to solicit donations. So far, they've raised about $10,000 but more money is needed. You can make a donation at https://www.facebook.com/savethegraves.

You can also send a check made out to the Boalsburg Cemetery Association. Just write Save The Graves in the memo line and mail to the address below:

Boalsburg Cemetery Association
P.O. Box 443
Boalsburg, PA 16827

Funds are also being accepted at the two churches that sit next to the cemetery: St. John's United Church of Christ and Zion Lutheran Church.

The State College Police department is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

If you have information about the incident you should call State College Police at (814) 234-7150. You can also file an anonymous tip by clicking HERE.

Watch video of the cemetery repair work below:

 

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Steve Bauer is Managing Editor & Chief Content Officer at StateCollege.com. Steve and his wife Trina are longtime area residents. They reside in State College along with a wacky Golden Retriever named Izzy. You can e-mail Steve at Steve.Bauer@StateCollege.com and you can follow him on Twitter @SteveBauerSCcom
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