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April 21, 2008

Atlantic News Telegraph

Highland Cemetery Vandalism

By David and Julie Williamson, Jonathan and Brandi Hansen, Bryan and Shellie Ferguson, Charles and Brenda Vogl and Chris and Gwen Ullerich

Highland Cemetery is a small pioneer cemetery that sits at the cross roads of Boston Road and 710th Street near the Tree in the Middle of the Road, a mile south of Interstate 80. This isolated area evidently makes it a perfect spot for young people to hang out because it sits high on a hill with the closest neighbor half a mile away to the north and behind a hill. For over 20 years the Benton Blue Ribbons 4-H club has taken care of this cemetery in northern Benton Township, by raking and picking up branches to make it easier to mow during the summer.

In the past five years or more our annual clean up has included setting up many of the tombstones that have been knocked over. When Dave and Julie Williamson went up this week to inspect it before our club was to clean it on Saturday they not only found 25 of these stones lying on the ground, but several shattered beyond recognition. Keep in mind that it takes a tractor with a loader, a log chain and about four strong men to set these stones back on their foundation - they don't fall over by themselves.

We understand this cemetery has the reputation in some circles as a 'cool' place to hang out, which we have no problem with; what we cannot comprehend is the blatant lack of respect for the sacredness of a cemetery even if most of its residents were buried in the early 1900's or before and have no family left in the area to keep an eye on the graves. When did pushing over tombstones (some over five feet tall) become a weekend's entertainment? We won't even bring up our disgust with the tracks from vehicles "cutting cookies" in the old churchyard.

We challenge the parents in this county to take a drive up there and see the desecration for themselves. We have failed our children when we have given them every material thing they ask for, but haven't taught them to respect one another, respect for the possessions they do have, respect for authority and finally respect for our ancestors and the history they have left us. We also challenge you to find out what your kids are doing on the weekends because we're afraid this routine act of vandalism is only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to negative and dangerous activity. We shudder to think what would happen to someone who found themselves on the wrong side of a falling 400-500 pound tombstone.

The youth and their families in our 4-H club, as well as the township trustees have been just a few of the people made aware of this situation in recent years and we have had enough and want to the whole county to know what's been going on in this secluded area.

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Page Last Updated: 2008-04-29 09:05:52
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