Cemetery bridge damaged by vandals

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2004

Woodland Cemetery officials want the community's help to stop

vandalism on the bridge that was built with the blood, sweat and tears of so many.

Recently, vandals broke off nearly 100 of the decorative tops on the wrought iron fence of the bridge that enters the cemetery from Lorain Street. This lack of respect has prompted the cemetery to place signs on the $1.18 million bridge warning that vandals will be prosecuted.

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If the damage is less than $500, it is considered a misdemeanor charge of criminal damaging. If damages exceed $500, violators can be charged with a felony vandalism, which at the very least carries a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 18-months in jail.

"That bridge cost a lot of money. Really, it kind of breaks your heart," said Mary Klaiber, cemetery secretary/clerk. "Not only do we get frustrated, but this is their hometown and it should mean something."

Klaiber caught several young boys playing around on the railing of the bridge that leads to the 133-year-old cemetery. The youth gave her false names and left the area.

So many of the iron pieces have been broken that the cemetery board may decide to remove all of the decorative pieces rather than replace them, Klaiber said.

Cemetery Board President Jerry Rowe contacted the Ironton Police Department about the problem.

"If we could just make people aware, it will help," Rowe said. "Anyone who sees or knows anything should call the IPD."

The old bridge was closed to traffic in June 1999 because of its age and poor condition. Construction of the new bridge began in May 2002. Bad weather delayed the completion and official dedication until May 2003.

The cemetery spent more than $100,000 of its own money to make the project happen, so it truly hurts to see this kind of disrespect, Rowe said.

"We built this for the community, for the people that need to travel there daily," he said. "But now, we have to stick signs out there just to keep people from tearing it up."