Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Vandals Target Cemetery

J-E Editor

Cullen Cemetery just outside of Providence is a place of beauty and peace, with grave stones dating back over a hundred years. But in recent weeks the little cemetery has become the target of vandals.

“These weren’t all done at the same time,” said local resident Stan Nall, pointing out two markers that he said he knew were knocked down more than a week apart. “That one belongs to my friend Willie Brown. The one next to it is his father’s.”
In all more than a half dozen gravestones have been turned over, with the oldest dating back to 1891.

“I dealt with this kind of situations back when I was with Emergency Management,” said Nall, who served as Webster County Disaster and Emergency Services Coordinator for decades. “Once they start, it seems like they just keep coming back and doing more and more damage.”

Nall said there has been a reward issued for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for the damage.

Some of the stones were so heavy that Nall believes it either would have taken several people or even a vehicle or ATV to disturb them. He has already spoken with several local funeral directors about getting equipment to reset the stones.

Cullen Cemetery is no stranger to hard times. In the mid-80’s the cemetery found itself amidst abandoned strip mine property just off Luttontown-Lisman Road. Nall said that at the land on all sides of the cemetery had been stripped, leaving the cemetery in danger of being washed out.

In 1986 the Diamond Reclamation Project was approved for design funds from the Sixth Annual Grant Application to the United States Office of Surface Mining. More than $150,000 in grants went into reclaiming the area around the cemetery, in addition to another area across Highway 814 from the old Providence Number One mine. More than 707 acres of land were reclaimed as part of the project.

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