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7/30/2014 2:00:00 PM
Jefferson Cemetery Hit by Vehicle Vandals Again

By Dominik Lobkowicz

Roughly two weeks ago, vandals again rutted up the back section of Jefferson Village Cemetery, according to Julie Stegna, president of the 

cemetery's association. The same area was vandalized in May, just prior to Memorial Day weekend. (Photos courtesy Julie Stegna)
Roughly two weeks ago, vandals again rutted up the back section of Jefferson Village Cemetery, according to Julie Stegna, president of the cemetery's association. The same area was vandalized in May, just prior to Memorial Day weekend. (Photos courtesy Julie Stegna)
 
Jefferson Village Cemetery has been rutted up by vehicles again, marking at least the second such incident this year, according to the cemetery association's president, Julie Stegna.

The back section of the cemetery was vandalized by at least one vehicle just prior to Memorial Day weekend this year, and Stegna says someone ripped that area up again about two weeks ago.

"It seems to happen every year," Stegna said. "This year they've really been doing it, several different times, and there are a lot of ruts."

The cemetery is split by water, and the rear half is secluded. Anyone wanting to access it with a vehicle would have had to drive up through the cemetery to get to it, Stegna said.

Though there are some flat headstones out back, there are several standing stones as well, Stegna said. "They know that it's a cemetery," she said.

Stegna sees more than just torn-up ground resulting from the vandalism - she sees disrespect to those buried there, costs to get the ruts fixed, and roadblocks to the volunteer groundskeeping she and her father, Ralph Bond, do there.

"I sometimes wonder about people, have they never been to a funeral, have they never lost someone that they love that they could do such a thing at a cemetery? It just baffles me," Stegna said.

"There are veterans out back there. Not that the other people aren't equally deserving of respect, but it's just a shame that it's happened again," she said.

Stegna plans to take a rake out to the back section to attempt repairs, but questions whether she'll be able complete the repairs necessary to be able to mow the area.

"We're just a cemetery association; we don't have a lot of money to landscape. I'm not really that strong enough to level everything out myself. We'd have to spend money to have it fixed," she said.

Ralph Bond has been mowing the cemetery for years, and Stegna just started in on it last year to aid her then-90-year-old father. The work has grown on her, and she has started fostering a sort of relationship with those buried there.

"You get so you recognize the names and you start piecing together the story," Stegna said. "You get so you know the people there and you really care about keeping it up nicely for the families.

Even if they don't have people coming to visit anymore, you just do it out of respect."

Stegna said she has not heard back recently from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office regarding the vandalism in May, and said she sent them the pictures of the recent damage. A call to the LCSO was not returned by press time.

The association is looking into installing night vision cameras as a deterrent against what has become seemingly annual acts of vandalism, Stegna said.

"They're in a cemetery, someone's final resting place. Nothing should be more sacred than that," Stegna said.




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