This vandalism is ultimate sign of disrespect

When a family member or friend dies, his or her final resting place is one that should represent peace — a place where survivors can visit and find comfort and consolation.

But for several families, their loved one’s resting place was anything but that last week.

On Friday morning, Springdale Cemetery maintenance workers arrived for their workday and found more than 20 headstones damaged and at least one destroyed by vandals.

Located in the front part of the cemetery to the left of the entrance, the gravestones were found toppled; at least one looked as if a broken piece was used to batter another portion of the gravestone.

Who does that?

Hopefully, Clinton police will be able to find an answer to that question. A police report has been filed, with damages listed as being anywhere from $5,000 to $7,000 to reset the overturned stones. The one that was broken in half could cost nearly $10,000 to fix.

In a Clinton Herald article published Saturday, we noted that the cemetery is in the process of seeking families whose gravestones were affected. One caretaker said that homeowner’s insurance would cover the cost to fix the stones, but without family assistance the cemetery will have to do it in-house.

This is the last thing the cemetery needs to deal with, as over the past few weeks we have detailed the struggle maintenance workers are having as they try to keep up with mowing, weeding and trimming the hilly, 106-acre cemetery. After receiving earlier reports about the cemetery’s condition, Iowa Insurance Division officials, the regulatory arm for perpetual care cemeteries in Iowa, have launched their own review into the cemetery’s care and maintenance.

According to the Iowa Cemetery Act, the commissioner of the Iowa Insurance Division can bring a suit against cemeteries in Iowa if the cemetery does not care for and maintain the grounds. Inadequate care and maintenance includes failure to adequately mow grass, failure to adequately edge and trim bushes, trees and memorials, failure to keep walkways and sidewalks free of obstructions, and failure to maintain the cemetery’s equipment and fixtures. The suit could lead to an injunction to expend the net income of a care fund.

So as the cemetery’s workers are behind in their maintenance and the board is trying to cover costs as a review is underway, now they must deal with the damage done to gravestones.

We feel nothing but ashamed of the vandals who showed the ultimate form of disrespect to the deceased and their families.