Cemetery vandalism to be repaired with help from Missoula mason
Montana residents are rallying to repair dozens of headstones vandalized in a historic small town cemetery.
In early January, vandals tore down or broke 35 headstones in the Maple Wood Cemetery in Stevensville.
The desecration of the headstones -- some dating back to the mid-1800s -- still has the Stevensville community in shock.
Now citizens are trying to bring the cemetery back to appropriate conditions. That's where Bob Jordan, the owner of Missoula's Garden City Monument services, comes in.
“We're trained and qualified in handling these monuments,” says Jordan. “I wouldn't want to see any of the city personnel there do any further damage to any of the monuments either.”
Jordan tells us once he heard about the cemetery vandalism he immediately called the mayor of Stevensville, Gene Mim Mack, to offer his services.
“We can save (the headstones) from what has happened there, and I wouldn't any employee of the city to get hurt on the project,” says Jordan.
Mim Mack tells NBC Montana that efforts to find who's responsible are paying off.
“We have received some tips in response to our reward notice,” says Mim Mack. “We're methodically going through those tips and are contacting people to see if we can get a suspect shook loose and hopefully make an arrest.”
Mim Mack says he's very grateful to have Jordan’s expert help.
“His sincerity and offer to help was immediate and unreserved,” smiles Mim Mack. “We're really appreciative of that kind of expertise making himself and his firm available at no charge to the town to consult on this.”
Jordan explains for the larger headstones that were tipped over, they will have to bring in a backhoe and use special straps and equipment to get them off the ground and upright.
He says it’s going to be much more difficult to repair the broken headstones, because many of the headstones in the Maple Wood Cemetery are over 100 years old, and many are made out of marble.
Jordan says marble becomes brittle over time, meaning repairing them will be a challenge. He adds if the broken headstones can’t be mended, they will have to be replaced with granite headstones.
The cost of replacing each broken headstone can range from $5,000 to $10,000.
Jordan tells us he's happy to assist the town of Stevensville and adds that it's a shame someone would vandalize the cemetery.
“You can never replace that historical portion of it,” he says.
Anyone with information about the vandalism is urged to call Stevensville Police at (406) 777-3011. There is a $500 reward for any information leading to a conviction.
The City of Stevensville is asking for financial donations to help pay for the cost of replacement. You can drop them off or send them to the Stevensville City Hall at 206 Buck Street, Stevensville MT 59870.